By Richard Akinnola
Few days ago, l had cause to state that Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State is courting a PR disaster with the way he was going on persecuting the impeached Chairman of Ijebu-East local government, Wale Adedayo over the allegations of diversion of LG allocations.
I would have thought that after engineering his ouster as LG Chairman and having done a riposte to Adedayo’s allegations, he should have allowed the matter to have a momentary rest, rather, it’s the governor that is keeping the issue in the public domain. Incredible.
First, he petitioned the DSS over the allegations which led to the detention of Adedayo for four days. Apparently frustrated that he couldn’t make a headway with that, he similarly petitioned the police that Adedayo made false allegations of withholding LG allocations, a move which saw to the arrest and arraignment of Adedayo at the magistrate court today. This, of course, would ignite legal fireworks as this would likely be challenged by Adedayo.
I would have thought that if he feels sufficiently incensed over the allegations, Governor Dapo would have toed the path of the respected former Governor of Ogun state, Chief Bisi “Aiyekoto” Onabanjo, who, in 1980, when faced with a similar situation, sued a newspaper for defamation in order to clear his name. He didn’t resort to this arm-twisting tactics of Governor Dapo by using State machinery to hound the newspaper or its reporter.
In the case of Chief Bisi Onabanjo v. Concord Press, (CAB/63/80), the former civilian Governor of Ogun State instituted a libel suit against Concord newspapers claiming N1 million damages. His complaint was in respect of the newspaper’s edition of May 8, 1980.
The National Concord story was under the headline “Onabanjo’s N250,000 UK fun”. Governor spends leave abroad at government’s expense…and tongues wag over huge expenditure.”
The governor’s grouse was that the story depicted him as guilty of abuse of office; that he had improperly diverted public funds for the personal pleasure of himself and his family and that he wasted public funds on ostentatious and flamboyant lifestyle. He complained to the court that contrary to the impression created by the publication, he actually traveled to Europe on leave, entirely at his own expense.
The court held:
“In their ordinary and natural meaning, the words contained in Exhibit “A” ‘Governor spends leave abroad at government expense,’ ‘Onabanjo’s N250,000 UK fun: reports from London said he arrived there with a 14- man entourage in style of an Arab Sheik from an oil rich Kingdom, those on junket with him are his wife, his ADC, his protocol staff, Ministry officials, his personal staff of cooks, stewards and his aunt”. This would convey an imputation that the plaintiff had wasted public funds in ostentatious and flamboyant lifestyle and was an irresponsible man and unworthy of public trust with the poser in the said publication.”
The court found the publication defamatory to the governor, particularly since the newspaper could not substantiate the allegations and damages awarded in favour of the governor.
I hope Governor Dapo Abiodun would toe this line by suing for defamation, or wait for the outcome of the EFCC investigation since the matter is being investigated by the anti-graft body, instead of using State apparatus to hound Wale Adedayo.
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