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, Abdulahi 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 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.”
SaharaReporters had in March published the criminal record of how 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.
The record revealed that Abiodun was jailed for committing criminal offences which bordered on credit card fraud, petty theft and check forgery.
He was arrested on November 7, 1986, for fighting and injuring a police officer in an attempt to resist arrest.
While being processed at the station, his fingerprint was run through the crime database and it was discovered that the Adedapo Oluseun Abiodun being processed for detention was the same as Shawn Michael Davids.
His criminal record and history were thus cemented and he was jailed.
According to some documents obtained by SaharaReporters, Abiodun’s jail number was 8600B9436.
In 2015, while contesting for the Ogun East Senatorial seat against the late Buruji Kasamu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), he applied for the redaction of his criminal records in Miami Dade, Florida.
This act of concealment meant he could lie on his Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) forms that he had no prior criminal records; a perjury offence that could have disqualified him from ever holding an appointive or elective office in Nigeria.
The redaction was granted in August 2015.