Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, has said his arrest in the United States over credit card fraud and forgery in 1986 is not sufficient grounds for his disqualification by the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Abiodun disclosed this while responding to a petition submitted by an APC member, Ayodele Oludiran on behalf of Oluwatobi Sofela of Ogun Bibire Unity Forum to the National Chairman of the party, Abdullahi Adamu.
Sofela had warned that the party might lose the governorship seat in Ogun due to Abiodun’s criminal history and its concealment from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) despite swearing an oath.
He also cautioned that the discrepancies in the governor’s educational qualifications might also cause opposition parties to question his eligibility for a re-election bid, swaying the electorate to their side.
“If action is not taken, the chances of our great party, the APC, retaining the governorship seat in Ogun State shall be in jeopardy as previously seen in Bayelsa and Zamfara states,” Sofela said.
According to People’s Gazette, responding, Abiodun said that his probable arrest was not a conviction and hence was not answerable to the laws that applied to criminals.
He added that even if he was convicted in 1986, the Nigerian constitution only disqualifies ex-felons from contesting political offices if their sentence was less than 10 years before the election date.
“An aspirant or candidate will only be disqualified by the court if the false information he gives relates to a constitutional requirement of eligibility. APC is not a court of law. Accordingly, it cannot disqualify our client,” the governor’s lawyer, Afe Babalola wrote in a letter to Adamu, citing section 29(6) of the Electoral Act 2022.
“In any event, assuming but not conceding that our client was even convicted in 1986, he would still not be affected or caught by Section 182 (1) (e) of the CFRN because the CFRN requires that the conviction which would disqualify a person from the position of the governor must have occurred ten years before the date of election to the office.”
According to reports, Abiodun was jailed in 1986 for credit card fraud in Miami Dade Florida, USA.
The governor was said to have used a pseudo name (Shawn Michael Davids) with the aim of concealing his criminal identity.
Mr Abiodun, with jail number 8600B9436, had filed an application for a redaction of his criminal records in Florida, and the request was granted in 2015.
Last May, Abidemi Rufai, a longtime associate of Mr Abiodun, was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the U.S. for his role in a $650 million (N312 billion) employment fraud.