Irele /Okitipupa Federal constituency is in the news again. This time round, the news is about who is the legally recognised Representative of this Federal constituency in The House of Representatives. At the poll which held on February 23rd, 2019, this Federal constituency gave their overwhelming majority votes to Hon Gboluga Ikengboju of the People’s Democratic party, PDP, who had since been returned as the Member House of Representatives, Abuja.
However, the mandate so freely given to Hon Gboluga Ikengboju has just been subjected to a fierce test of the election tribunal and the Tribunal’s pronouncement on the Representative’s mandate does not sound appealing.
The honourable Tribunal , relying on section 66 of the Constitution held that Representative Gboluga Ikengboju had no legal stand to have been fed by his party on the ground of his dual citizenship, and on this basis sacked him as the elected Representative of Irele/ Okitipupa Federal constituency in the House of Reps.
In the Tribunal’s ruling, Hon Albert Akintoye becomes ‘the Judgement creditor’ , pronounced as the Representative of his Federal constituency. Expectedly, this matter goes to appeal, and in that order will definitely get to the Supreme Court before the constituents can finally know who their substantive and legal Representative is.
This is the Crux of the matter as both contenders fate hang in the balance; considering the natural order that Hon. Ikengboju is a Nigerian by birth , which grants him automatic citizenship and not by registration or naturalisation, it is held in law , granting the opinion of section 28 of the same constitution, that he cannot be denied the inalienable rights of citizenship of his country of birth. However, when dual citizenship is held by a person, the issue of dual benefits arise and the question is, can one naturally benefit as a citizen of a foreign land , while mutually enjoying the rights of his home country? This arguments with the attendant constitutional legalese shall come fiercely to the front burner at The court of Appeal .
Yesterday around 5 PM, the Albert Akintoye merry party veered into Okitipupa from Akure with pump and fanfare in a fleet of choice cars filled with well wishers trumpeting the good news of their sweet victory from the Tribunal.
It is a classic case of the first laugh; however , he who laughs last laughs the best. This much was trumpeted from the state PDP Secretariat , Akure through the press release of Ondo PDP scribe who made it clear that Peoples Democratic Party vehemently disagreed with the judgement of the Tribunal on the mandate of Hon Gboluga Ikengboju. PDP claimed the Tribunal erred in its interpretation of section 66 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic.
It will be recalled that it was a keen contest between Hon Gboluga Ikengboju and Hon Michael Omogbehin in 2015 for the House of Representatives ticket and the latter won at the PDP primary, going further from there to defeat Hon Mayowa Akinmoyero of Apc at the general election.
There was no gainsaying the fact that even the PDP primary election that presented Gboluga Ikengboju was keenly contested among power brokers like the immediate past MHR Michael Omogbehin, Hon. Ogunwa Oboli and others.
However, for Ikengboju, he seems to have a formidable opponent in Hon Albert Akintoye, former member House of Representatives, and cross over politician from PDP, a party that once housed both contenders.
The admission of the dual citizenship exhibits by the Tribunal as presented by Hon Akintoye’s counsel appears to be the major clog in the wheel of Hon Gboluga’s victory at this material time. Beyond the academics of this argument at the court of second instance on this historic issue of dual citizenship, the constituents , supporters across party lines know that it is too early for celebration as it is not yet Uhuru on the contentious matter of who represents Irele/Okitipupa Federal constituency at the Red chamber.