When contacted, the National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Comrade Jare Ajayi, who was said to be suspended expressed surprise that a step of that nature could be taken against officers who were not given an opportunity to defend themselves on whatever allegations that the leaders considered as infraction(s).
“I, and to the best of my knowledge, Abagun Kole Omololu, the National Organising Secretary, were never issued a query let alone be asked to face any disciplinary committee. It is a big pity that an organization founded on principles and that is guided by ethos and regulations could take seeming disciplinary actions against any member – not to talk of officials – without giving them an opportunity to respond to whatever allegations the leaders have against them”.
He went further to say that rather than being querried, he was receiving commendations as the acting Leader, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, always described him as ‘Onigege Ara’ (One with an admirable writing skill) in reference to the manner of his Press Releases.
Ajayi added that the only two occasions he can recall in recent times that senior members spoke with him somehow on the releases he issued were the one on the cash crunch faced by Nigerians and the one in which he congratulated the President-elect, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu.
“In the heat of the sufferings being experienced by Nigerians in accessing their monies in the banks, I called on the federal government and the Central Bank of Nigeria to extend the deadline for the circulation of both the old and the new Naira notes by at least three months. This was early in February before the pronouncement by the Supreme Court. A top officer of Afenifere called me to say that what I asked the government to do was not the position of the organization. I asked him what the position was, the senior officer told me that the position will be stated after a meeting that was being contemplated. I said that people were suffering hence the statement I issued. And thereafter, the position of the organization on the issue was never made known to me.The second occasion was when some members called me to express their displeasure over the statement issued to congratulate the President-elect, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, after his electoral victorty. Those who called me said that since Mr. Peter Obi and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar were still contesting Asiwaju’s victory, it was wrong to congratulate him.Ajayi said that his reponse to those who toed this line was that even in the congratulatory message, he not only reminded Asiwaju of things like Restructuring that Afenifere is advocating, “I admonished those who were not satisfied with the electoral victory to toe the legal path as provided by the law. I also asked those who expressed reservation on the Release as to whether or not Nigeria has a President-elect. They admitted that since the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) authorized by the law to conduct elections has declared him as winner of the election, he stands elected until otherwise pronounced by a competent court or tribunal. Their argument however was that since some candidates, particularly Mr. Peter Obi, was contesting the victory, Tinubu should not have been congratulated. I reminded them that our earlier position which was in sync with that of the South and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) of which Afenifere is a prominent member, was for the presidency to come to the South, and since Asiwaju is from the South, it is logical and not out of tune to congratulate him. “These are the only two occasions when some at the top level of the organization have expressed their opinions on the statements I issued. And the opinions so expressed did not come in form of querries from the appropriate quarters nor was I, or Abagun Kole Omololu, got invited to face any disciplinary committee”.
Comrade Jare Ajayi mentioned that a Disciplinary Committee he was aware of to have been set up early this year was housed in the office of the Legal Adviser of Afenifere, Right Honourable (Dr) Akin Onigbinde, SAN.
“This body, or any other one, has never, to the best of my knowledge, invited any officer for questioning let alone discipline”.
The embattled Publicity Secretary asserted that the purported suspension was political and unjust since there was no hearing, whether fair or not. Also, it was not based on what Afenifere really stands for but on extraneous matters relating mainly to the just concluded 2023 elections.