Dr. Olaiya Oni, former chairman of the Labour Party in Ondo State, speaks on the contentious security reports used by Governor Olusegun Mimiko to fortify his case at the Election Petition Tribunal in 2007, where he challenged the victory of the former governor, Dr. Olusegun Agagu.
Could you tell us your role in the election petition of Governor Olusegun Mimiko in 2007?
I was chairman of the Labour Party, as you know. During the election, I collated reports from my party chairmen from all the 18 local government areas. On the election day, ballot boxes were snatched and there was violence.
As a matter of fact, the then Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), in his broadcast, when he announced the result of the election, admitted that there was violence and so on and so forth.
But in spite of this violence, he did not utter the verdict of the election. At the tribunal, all of us gave evidence. In my ward, Isoko Ward 1, Akoko North East Local Government Area, we didn’t even see ballot boxes at all during the election because they were snatched away at the distribution center at Ugbe in Ikare.
So, the Deputy Director of State Security Service (SSS) in Ondo State, at that time, when he was monitoring the election at Ise, my home town, saw that there was no election there.
When I now got back to Akure, I found out that what happened at Ise happened in some other places in Ondo State. I then wrote a letter to the Resident Electoral Commissioner which and I sent through the man who represented us at the collation center, Comrade Oyekan Arije.
In the letter, I said the Resident Electoral Commissioner should look at the areas of irregularities because in some cases, including my own local government, election did not take place. As a matter of fact, the result from my ward, Isoko ward 1, was cancelled.
It was cancelled by the Resident Electoral Commissioner. So, at the tribunal, that was the reason why the lead counsel to Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, Chief Wole Olanipekun, told me that since I mentioned police and security reports in my letter to the Resident Electoral Commissioner on the day of the election, they were going to tender, through the bar, all security reports on the election including SSS reports for my identification whether those reports agred with my evidencein- chief of violence, box snatching and so forth.
The Police Investigation Unit has found out that the security reports tendered by Mimiko’s legal team before the tribunal were forged. What is your reaction?
The fact of the case was that it was shortly before I mounted the witness box that Wole Olanipekun, you know I am mentioning names now, told me that I was going to identify certain reports which they had tendered at the bar.
I don’t know how to put it in judicial language. When I mounted the witness box, they gave me those documents, up to 37, I think. I read through and then they said “do they agree with what I said in my letter to INEC REC that there was violence and so and so forth.” I said yes.
So, I only identified the report. That was all I knew about it. Then in 2010, I was invited by the police headquarters. That was September or so. I think the invitation letter came through Governor Mimiko at that time. He was in Abuja. He asked me to come to Abuja that I had to meet the police. I said on what. He said on the documents that I tendered at the tribunal. When I got there, I went to the police headquarters.
They now put those questions to me that I tendered SSS reports and where did I get them. I said ‘okay police, let me write down my statement first.’ So, he gave me paper and wrote down my statement just the way I put it. I now told them in my statement that many people brought documents to the party secretariat and at the party secretariat, I was not the only person there.
But the instruction of our legal team was that all document that were brought to the party secretariat in respect of the election- INEC register, security reports, international observers’ reports, reports by individual local gove r n m e n t chairmen, party elders, representatives of the Nigeria Labour Congress, representatives of even the political desk of INEC- that I should send all of them to the legal team.
They were based in Ondo at that time in Dr. Mimiko’s house. The Legal Adviser to the party was one of those who were collating these reports. That is, Yinka Adeyosoye. He was a member of the legal team of Mimiko. Also Barrister Remi Olatubora was there. He was the Publicity Secretary of Labour Party at that time. He was also a member of the collating team. Some of these reports went through them.
There is also Dr. Daodu. Dr. Daodu was chairman of the tactical committee on INEC matters. So, it was not me alone. But as I said earlier, Wole Olanipekun told me that I was the most relevant person to identify those reports, including SSS reports. That was what happened. But when I now finished with the police, I went back to Dr. Mimiko to ask him ‘if I was going to answer questions on SSS reports “which you yourself know that I didn’t know anything about.” I asked him why he didn’t tell me before I went to the police?
It became a very acrimonious discussion. The national chairman was there, the national secretary was there, and Col. Omowa was there. They blamed me for nothing when I told them exactly what I told the police. They said I shouldn’t have gone to the extent of details. I said why, he didn’t tell me what I was going to meet at the police headquarters. The matter was so messy that I decided to resign my appointment as chairman of Labour Party because I was very disturbed.
How could the governor, the national chairman of the party be behaving like rascals? I actually used that word. In fact, they gave me a query, they called it a call to order; they said that I was very rude to the national leadership of the party. I said if my saying the truth would involve me being rude to the national leadership of the party, then I had better resign because in terms of my personality in this country, I am superior to all of them.
Later, when I came back to Akure, people had to come and beg me that I should please forget; Mimiko himself, national chairman, Dr. Akinlaja, the National Deputy Chairman. They all came and started begging me. That was it. Then I became very curious because when I asked from Mimiko how he came about the SSS reports, he now told me I knew that he could use unorthodox means to achive orthodox results.
Those were his words He said the way he got those reports was a matter for his own personal consumption. I said ‘okay that is right; anyway, I have told the police what I knew about it.
So, what now happened?
Later, I got to know that one Steve… The Police in Abuja asked me whether I knew one Steve and I said I didn’t; that there were so many SSS operatives that I worked with at the SSS headquarters, in Akure South Local Government Area in Akoko North East Local Government Area. I showed them my telephone that I had their telephone numbers. But that Steve I said I did not know him. When I now investigated, I discovered that Steve was an orderly to the Director of SSS, Spero Jack. He was not an officer as such. He was just an orderly to Jack.
Maybe it was he that Mimiko used, I don’t know. What I don’t know, I don’t know.
But did you make any efforts to find out who that Steve was?
I carried out an investigation. My investigation revealed that Steve, with one or two SSS officials was dismissed. They were dismissed following some investigations into the matter.
It was then that I knew that even the matter had been on long before I was invited to Abuja. So, when they were dismissed, the dismissal of Steve was converted to retirement or something and Mimiko now hired him as his private personal security aide. I demanded to know that Steve and I met him. I asked him his role.
He said he was formerly in this state and that they investigated him because they thought he gave the SSS reports to Labour Party. He said that was why he resigned and that he was first dismissed but that his letter was later changed to retirement.
So that is what I know. I think the police subsequently came about six months or about a year ago, they came to me here from Abuja to come and ask me further questions and I told them exactly what I am telling you now. That is all I know. I didn’t know the author of those reports.
But I think the police are in a better position to know whether they are fake or not. They told me in Abuja that eight of the nine reports are fake. I said ‘I don’t know whether they are fake of not. All I knew was that SSS stamp was on the documents. That was how I was able to identify them.
What do you think about the recommendation that you should be tried being the one that tendered the alleged forged reports before the tribunal?
I think if anybody should be held responsible for this matter, it is Governor Mimiko himself because it is only he who knows how those reports were procured. Of course, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko is capable of any evil. You know I have said it on several occasions that the man has unlimited capacity for evil. Let me tell you, when I asked him how he came about the SSS reports, he told me that ‘You know I can make unorthodox methods to achieve orthodox results.’ He didn’t tell me more than that.
That is why I said if they want to find out who got those reports, that fake reports as confirmed by the police, Mimiko is the person.
The governorship candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Rotimi Akeredolu, was part of the legal team of Mimiko. Do you think he was aware the reports were forged?
I don’t know whether Akeredolu was aware the reports were forged or not. Even Wole Olanipekun, I don’t know whether he was aware. Like I told you, it was just a few hours to the time I was to testify at the tribunal that Wole Olanipekun told me that looking at my evidence in chief, I made reference to police and security reports; that they had some security reports that were in the tribunal; that they were going to tender them from the bar for me to identify.
That was what happened. I don’t know whether they know about it.