• Friday, July 19, 2024
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Osun poll: Ige’s murder resonates as APC, PDP test might

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Twelve years after the gruesome murder of Bola Ige, former attorney general of the federation, in his bedroom at his Bodija, Ibadan residence on December 23, 2001, politics in Osun State is still being moderated by issues surrounding the mysterious assassination.

Although the Nigeria Police had assured Nigerians that it would get to the root of the matter and unmask the brains behind the murder, nothing concrete has come out of the investigations.

Many people have gone in and out of the court over the matter. At a point, Ige’s family elected to discontinue with the court case asking the state to continue if it wished.

One of those still having the scar of allegation of complicity over Ige’s death is Iyiola Omisore, a two-term member of the Senate (2003-2011). The senator was among those who were arrested and charged to court over the assassination of the man fondly called the Cicero of Esa-Oke. After some years, Omisore was discharged and acquitted by the court. However, the acquittal has done nothing to change the perception of some people of him.

At one time or another, there have been comments and innuendos to drag him to the issue of Ige’s death.

For instance, when it became obvious that Omisore was preparing to contest the governorship of Osun State, Ige family issued a statement that an aspirant wanted to parade a fictitious member of the family who would exonerate him from their father’s killing. Recently also, Muyiwa, the eldest son of Bola Ige, who is currently the commissioner for Lands and Physical Planning in Osun State, had during a recent interview said his father’s ghost would continue to haunt those who killed him.

Although he did not mention names, Omisore said the finger-pointing was toward his direction.

By the same token, Rauf Aregbesola, governor, Osun State, who is seeking re-election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and some civil society groups had earlier in the year called on the Federal Government to revisit the trial of Ige murder suspects.

Again, Omisore said that the governor was alluding to him, urging him to provide new evidence which linked him with the killing. According to him, “If there are fresh facts why didn’t they appeal the judgment on Ige’s murder over these years, why now that election timetable was released by INEC?”

Pundits say that until the gubernatorial election is over, Ige’s murder will remain a strong campaign point, particularly between the APC and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidates.

According to them, while the APC will be trying to make political capital out of it, telling the people why they should not vote the PDP candidate, the latter on the other hand will be defending himself, trying profusely to impress it upon the voting masses that his hands are clean.

A commentator told BDSUNDAY that the call on the Federal Government to reopen the Ige murder may not be heeded if it is aimed at opening the books and re-arresting the likes of Omisore, who has on his own re-opened the case at the Federal High Court, Ibadan, challenging his “malicious prosecution” and demanding N2 billion as damages.

Like in Ekiti State where the selection of Ayo Fayose as PDP flag bearer for the gubernatorial election billed for June 21, is drawing flaks from members of the opposition who see the decision as infantile and indicative of PDP’s tolerance for thuggery, the emergence of Omisore as the PDP candidate for the August 9 election in Osun has also been described as symptomatic of the ruling party’s penchant for absurdity.

Omisore emerged from an array of aspirants who competed for the slot in a primary conducted in Osogbo, the state capital, under the supervision of Adamu Aliero as chairman of the gubernatorial primary election. Omisore reportedly polled 1,128, while Wole Oke had five votes; Olasunkanmi Akinlabi had 35 votes and Adetunji Adeleke had no vote.

Again, like what happened in Ekiti, the APC government in Osun scoffed at the result of the primary and said the umbrella party made a grievous mistake by choosing Omisore.

Describing the primary, which Omisore won as a kangaroo exercise, the APC said: “We all expected it, even his co-aspirant has had to withdraw from the race because the candidate and his gang will stop at nothing including violence to pick his party’s ticket. And he already has it. However, that development makes things easier for the APC because with an Omisore, the PDP has a candidate that lacks pedigree, credibility, responsibility and focus.”

Reacting to APC claim, Diran Odeyemi, Omisore’s director of Media and Publicity, said: “We don’t expect them to meddle into our affair. The emergence of Omisore at the gubernatorial primary is purely a PDP affair and does not concern the APC. They should go and face their campaign and let the electorate decide who would be their governor during the election.”

A PDP stalwart, who spoke with our correspondent on the choice of Omisore said when going to war, an army goes with its best soldiers, and that a good coach goes for a competition with his first eleven.

“Politics is not played on the basis of sentiments. You must field your best candidate. When going for a football match, you go with your first eleven. You don’t go to war, for instance, with students of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), but you go with experienced soldiers. In the case of Senator Iyiola Omisore, a two-term senator is not a political neophyte. He is astute and knows the rule of the game. He is capable of governing a state. PDP don’t just give anybody ticket to go and preside over a state”, the source said.

On the allegation trailing the candidate, the source said: “PDP is not a court of law. It is a political association. It is not possible for the party to punish or limit an innocent person’s ambition based on mere allegations. Nobody has found Omisore guilty in relation to Ige’s murder. So until and unless a court of competent jurisdiction convicts a man of wrong doing, what is said in the market square about him does not make him a guilty person.”

A member of PDP in Lagos State, who craved anonymity, said from the reaction of the APC in Osun following the emergence of Omisore, it appeared that the broom party was jittery.

“I took time to read Governor Kayode Fayemi’s reaction to the emergence of Ayo Fayose as PDP flag bearer in Ekiti State; the governor was accusing the national secretariat and the Presidency of supporting thuggery and all that. Again, the emergence of Senator Omisore has become a big issue among the APC in Osun. What it means is that the governors of Ekiti and Osun recognise the capabilities of Fayose and Omisore in their individual states. Now, if they say they have done wonderfully to please the people of their states through the provision of the democracy dividends, there should be no need for them to feel threatened. And come to think of it, they have the incumbency advantage; so it is clear that they are not really confident of themselves. If Omisore is as unpopular as his state government wants people to believe, the ballot box is there to prove that in August”, the PDP man said.

However, Ola Thompson, who claims to hail from Osun State, said it was doubtful if the people of the state, because of the Ige’s matter, would elect Omisore as their governor.

“In Nigeria, a man is guilty even before he is proven so by a law court. Sometimes, even if a man is proven innocent, it does not change the perception of people who had already found him guilty. For Omisore, the stigma is there. Even though he had won elections twice to be at the National Assembly, he only represented a senatorial district; it is different from seeking votes from various parts of the state. Well, in Nigerian politics, it is said that the more you look, the less you see,” Thompson said.

Zebulon Agomuo