…Battles N165bn Fraud Allegations

Coming on the heels of the comprehensive defeat of Moshood Adeoti, the anointed candidate of Interior Minister, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, at Saturday’s governorship primaries of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), widespread condemnations have trailed recent activities of the Minister.

Governor Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State emerged victorious in the primary poll, winning with a wide margin of 222,169 votes.

He was trailed by Moshood Adeoti with a distant 12,922 votes while Yusuf Lasun came last with 460 votes in the direct primaries.

Adeoti was Secretary to the State Government when Aregbesola was governor of Osun State, while Lasun is a former member of the House of Representatives.

In the recent time however, Aregbesola had embarked on what political observers described as campaigns of calumny against both the National Leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and Governor Oyetola.

In retrospect, following the completion of accreditation at Ward One in Iragbiji, where the Governor was accredited, agents and representatives of Adeoti and Yusuf were not present at the ward.

The returning officer in the ward, Apostle Samson Oyebode, while announcing voting procedure said, “representatives and agents of the Adeoti and Lasun were not present at the venue.

The voters were then instructed to line behind the poster of their respective candidates. Most of the voters lined behind Governor Oyetola, who was physically present at the venue.

According to the Apostle Oyebode, “after the headcounts, 2053 voters were accredited, 1612 queued behind Oyetola while Adeoti and Lasun had no votes; the other voters did not return to the venue after accreditation”.

Addressing the newmen after the counting, Governor Oyetola said the primary should not be a war and urged aspirants and supporters to rally behind the party during the governorship election in July.

Meanwhile at the party level, Aregbesola has come under condemnations for exhibiting strange traits capable of rocking the party’s boat ahead of the coming governorship election in Osun.

He has also been pilloried for launching needless and inexplicable expletives against Tinubu who has all the while maintained his peace.

The Chairman, Osun APC Elders’ Caucus, popularly known as ‘Igbimo Agba’, Engr. Sola Akinwumi, particularly expressed disappointment in the minister for “descending so low to engage in uncharitable public street show”.

Akinwumi condemned the act in its totality, describing it as a display of thuggery and hooliganism that is unbefitting of a former governor of the state.

The APC chieftain made the statement while receiving Governor Adegboyega Oyetola in his residence recently.

He also wondered why Aregbesola went about attacking the person of Tinubu, whereas the latter had not uttered a word against the minister.

Describing the act as that of an ingrate or the biblical Judas, Akinwumi wondered whether it was not Aregbesola who once described Tinubu as his benefactor and god; that he is someone he must never betray in his life

Aregbesola had on Monday gambolled round the streets of Osogbo and also rode on a motorcade, surrounded by street urgings, where he had a field day mocking Tinubu and Oyetola.

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With him was Adeoti, the factional ‘anointed aspirant’ of the ‘The Osun Progressives’ (TOP), a splinter group within the APC.

They both campaigned against Asiwaju Tinubu and Governor Oyetola as they went round.

Akinwumi, who lampooned the erstwhile governor for acting like a baby politician, commended Governor Oyetola for his display of maturity and competence in handling the matter.

The party elder statesman thus called on the aggrieved members of the ruling party to return to the party and stop being deceived by those who have nothing to offer them.

Meanwhile, while assuring Governor Adegboyega Oyetola of their support, the Osun APC’s elder’s caucus berated Aregbesola over what they described as a show of rascality.

“The erstwhile governor belittles himself and I am very sure he didn’t know the implications of what he did. He acted so low and naively as if he was the sitting Governor.

“Was he telling us that there are two Governors in the State? Has he forgotten that he was no longer a Governor? Well be it as it was, we have known his intention and we leave everyone to his or her conscience.

“I commend the way and manner our Governor has been managing the circumstance over time. He has demonstrated patience, tolerance, and integrity”, Akinwumi further spoke for the elders.

Replying Aregbesola, however, a group loyal to Tinubu also on Friday described Aregbesola as witnessing an avoidable psychological ‘LOW’ at the moment.

In a statement, the group, Movement Against Societal Hypocrisy (MASH) said Aregbesola was fighting a hypocritical, lost battle against the establishment in Osun, his home state.

MASH in the statement by its Secretary-General, Hakeem Adisa, stated: “By Saturday, going by Nigeria’s most recurring standard political practice, his preferred person will lose the governorship primary against the state’s incumbent governor.

“And any contemplation of this adds to Aregbesola’s frustration, despite being a powerful sitting minister of the federal republic.

“His regrettably condemnable vituperation against the person of ASIWAJU BOLA AHMED TINUBU notwithstanding, there’s still hope of him retracing his steps, with forgiven consequences because of JAGABAN’s large heartedness.

It also quoted Tinubu as saying, “I plan for betrayal: I plan for backstabbing: I also plan for reunion and forgiveness long before they happen.”

Not done, an Ondo/Ekiti axis’ pan-Yoruba group, the Sunshine Liberation Movement (SLM) has asked the Interior Minister to “go face the fraud allegations starring him in the face before the House of Representatives, rather than go about playing the role of a Judas against Tinubu, the man who brought him up from the gutter and made him someone to reckon with”.

In a statement on Friday by the coordinator of the SLM, Elder Dipo Ajidahun “said Osun APC members should not be deceived by the campaigns of a man under whom billions of Naira earmarked for the feeding of prisoners grew wings and disappeared”.

The SLM also appealed to President Buhari, to as a matter of urgency, remove Aregbesola so he can go face the fraud allegations against his office before at the House of Reps, before the APC administration is brought to disgrace.

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Meanwhile, the House of Representatives had on Wednesday resolved to investigate an alleged embezzlement of the N165 billion appropriated for Nigeria Correctional Service (NCS) over the past two years under Aregbesola-led Interior Ministry.

The resolution followed the adoption of a motion on “urgent national importance on the deplorable state of Inmates and the unwholesome working conditions of Officers and Men of the Nigeria Correctional Service despite huge budgetary allocations with attendant adverse effects on security of custodial facilities and the new mandate of the Service, sponsored by the Minority Leader, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu (Delta-PDP)

While moving the motion, Hon. Elumelu observed that upon the enactment of the Nigeria Correctional Service Act 2019, Nigeria joined most countries of the world in adopting modern correctional alternatives to incarceration or imprisonment including non–custodial measures.

He however expressed grave concern over the plight of thousands of Nigerians working in the Service, whom he described as the single most important resource available to the correctional system and thus prioritized the welfare of these Officers and men in line with international best practices to propel them to optimal performance.

According to him, “the House is disturbed that despite this Act and increase in budgetary allocations to the Nigerian Correctional Service to drive its renewed mandate, the tempo and quality of the Service have
remained the same if not retrogressing

“The House is worried that the working conditions of Staff and
inmates’ welfare have deteriorated notwithstanding the over N165 billion budget allocations to the Service in the last two years.

“The House Observed that the Arms Squad unit of the Service still parades obsoletes and substandard weapons despite over N1 billion budget provision for prison biometrics, arms and ammunition in the 2020/2021 capital budget, thus, impeding its ability to deter, prevent or respond effectively to both internal and external threats.

“The House is aware of deaths of correctional officers and men across the country following attacks either on escort vehicles or custodial facilities.

“The House also observed that Staff still buys or makes their uniform till date regardless of the huge budget allocations provided for this purpose, provision of uniform for inmates is nonexistence in most
Custodial centers.

“The House further observed that in addition to allegations of
non-utilization of budget allocations in the manner prescribed by the National Assembly and administrative incompetence of drivers of change in the rebranded Service, there are also claims of unscrupulous staff promotion, denial of rights and benefits including hazard and duty tour allowances levelled against the management of the Service.

“The House is concerned that the demoralizing effects of these
allegations, given increasing evidences of susceptibility of some officers and men compromising security of custodial facilities, might worsen violations of these facilities and current security challenges in the country.

“The House is also concerned that the appalling state of custodial
facilities and general welfare of inmates, post NCS Act, is worrisome and requires immediate attention.”

To this end, the House mandated its Committee on Reformatory
Institutions to investigate these allegations and report to the House within 12 weeks for further legislative action.