Gov’ship Tribunal: Group Tackles Okutepa Over ‘Outlandish Statements’ Against Bello, Kogi Govt

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A group under the auspices of Project Kogi Development (PKD) has cautioned a senior advocate of Nigeria, Jibrin Okwutepa over his allegations against Governor Yahaya Bello and the state government.

A statement issued in Lokoja on Tuesday and signed by the National President of the group, Toyin Kamal, expressed surprise that a lawyer will throw caution to the winds and make unsubstantiated allegations on the alleged attack on members of the governorship election petition tribunal.

Kamal said “Otunba Olumofin J.S Okutepa followed the traditions of spokespersons of the SDP, making their usually very wild and unintelligent allegations against the State Governor, the State Government, State Officials, the Nigerian Police, and other Security Agencies.

“Very recently, the Nigerian Police gave the Kogi SDP Spokesperson, one Farouk Adejoh, 24 hours to substantiate allegations that the Kogi State Police Commissioner was responsible for recruiting and supporting thugs in support of a political party. Sadly, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria has now stepped into the shoes of Farouk Adejoh, making very outlandish, defamatory, and prejudicial statements without any iota of proof; statements which by all standards should earn him an invitation by law enforcement agencies for the purpose of substantiating his wild allegations.”

Kamal said the allegations leveled against Governor Bello by the senior advocate was at variance with the former’s records in securing lives and properties in Kogi state over the last seven years.

“Our attention has been drawn to a press release published on the 4th day of December 2023, credited to one Otunba Olumofin J.S Okutepa, SAN who claims to be a member of the legal team of the Social Democratic Party in a Petition purportedly filed on 2nd December 2023 in Kogi State.

“For the records, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, the Governor of Kogi State was not a candidate in the election of 11th November 2023. He is not a party to the petition neither is the Kogi State Government. There is therefore no factual basis to allege any attack sponsored by the State Government on the Panel sent to the State to perform a constitutional role. It is simply an outrageous allegation and the same is vehemently condemned.

“No Government in the history of Kogi State has done more in terms of securing the lives and property of Kogites, residents and visitors since assumption of office in 2016, than the administration of Governor Yahaya Bello. Pre-2016 and post 2016 statistics are there for all to see. The awards and accolades won by the Governor on the issue of Security are equally a glaring testimony to his sterling security architecture. The Governor has gone further to ensure the enactment of the Kogi State Penal Code 2019, the Administration of Criminal Justice Law 2017, and the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Law 2022 to aid the State including the Judiciary in the Prosecution of offences thereby ensuring that offenders have their day in Court. The State Government has provided a conducive environment for Tribunals and indeed the Court of Appeal which sat in the State in the recent past. No incident of attack was recorded at those times.

“Against the above backdrop, it is absurd and indeed reckless that the blame for opportunistic security breaches, investigative and operational activities of law enforcement agents will be laid at the doorsteps of the same Governor and State Government.

“It is also disheartening that a Senior Advocate of Nigeria hired by the SDP and its candidate will make such outlandish statements which are no doubt targeted at prejudicing the mind of the Tribunal and indeed the judiciary even before hearing commences in the petitions.

“As citizens of the great state called Kogi, we calls on the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee(LPPC) to beam its searchlight into the utterances of this rogue called Otunba Olumofin J.S Okutepa, SAN which are nothing but shameful, criminal, inciting and which has definitely brought disrepute to the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria,” he said.

The group called on J.S Okutepa, SAN to desist from making unguarded and outlandish statements against the person of Governor Yahaya Bello and the Kogi state government.

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