Ahead of next month’s governorship election in Ondo State, a factional candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim, has alleged that a top official of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Abuja demanded a bribe of $1 million from him so as to honour the court judgment, which certified him as the authentic candidate of the party in the election.
Ibrahim, who is the publisher of National Mirror Newspaper, made the allegation at media parley in Abuja on Sunday.
The billionaire businessman and politician, who said he bluntly refused to be part of the INEC’s alleged deal, disclosed that he has already petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari and Chairman of the Commission, Professor Mahmud Yakubu, over the said allegation.
The publisher equally alleged that the Ondo State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) Mr. Olusegun Agbaje, is a card-carrying member of PDP that should not be trusted to conduct a free and fair election in the state.
He specifically demanded for the removal of Mr. Olusegun Agbaje on the strength of the allegation. The electoral umpire has however debunked Barrister Ibrahim’s allegation.
The Commission, which spoke through the Chief Press Secretary to its Chairman, Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi, described all the allegations “as nothing but tissue of lies” and that they should be ignored by the general public.
In the words of Oyekanmi, “it is curious. How can someone make such a demand in an open place inside INEC office? This is false. Any proof?
“It is not true that Mrs. Babalola demanded $1m bribe from Jimoh Ibrahim. Two other officials of INEC witnessed the encounter between Mrs. Babalola and Jimoh Ibrahim.
“The truth of the matter is that Jimoh Ibrahim brought a copy of his judgement and wanted to impress it on INEC to collect it. But we told him that we already have it. It is uncharitable and ungodly of a businessman of his stature to make this kind of allegation,” he said.
Continuing, he said, “On the allegation against the Ondo REC, it is a tissue of lies fabricated by Jimoh Ibrahim. Honestly, the Ondo REC is one of the best RECs the Commission can boast of.
“He performed credibly in the Osun State governorship election. He did well while in Kogi State as REC. To say the least, the man in question is an incorruptible man.
He described Ibrahim’s allegation as part of distractions the commission faces every day, saying “we are used to it. But we are resolute, we will not be distracted by individuals or any political party, we are going ahead with the Ondo election, we will be fair to all.
“We can only appeal to the politicians to face their politics and allow the INEC to do its assignment in accordance with the provisions of the law of the land.”
In his petition to President Muhammadu Buhari, copies of which were made available to journalists, Jimoh Ibrahim alleged that INEC Acting Legal Adviser, Mrs. O.O Babalola demanded for $1 million before obeying court judgement over Ondo election.
Ibrahim, who belongs to the Senator Ali Modu Sheriff-led faction of the PDP, insisted that he remains the authentic PDP candidate for the November 26 governorship election in Ondo State, based on court pronouncement on the matter.