As the deadline for the submission of candidates to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) expires today, trouble almost engulfed the national secretariat of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), yesterday, over the alleged substitution of candidates.
Aggrieved candidates from Kogi, Enugu, Abia and Imo states besieged the party secretariat to register their anger with the Senator Abdullahi Adamu-led National Working Committee (NWC) over the development.
Heavily armed security personnel had to hurriedly ferry Adamu away from the party secretariat to avoid an unsavoury experience in the hands of aggrieved candidates and their supporters.
Scores of supporters of some of the candidates, who attempted to force their way into the premises of the party secretariat chanted war songs to register their displeasure over the development.
Ejike Okoli, speaking on behalf of four House of Representatives aspirants, who won primaries in Enugu State, alleged that they were denied the opportunity to fill the INEC forms that would make them eligible to contest the 2023 poll.
He alleged: “We were invited through an SMS to come to Abuja to collect and fill INEC forms only to be given the withdrawal forms, which we rejected. And they have since refused to give us the INEC forms.”
He further alleged that the party leadership had perfected plans to substitute their names with their favoured aspirants for inexplicable reasons.
One of the aggrieved supporters of an aspirant from Kogi State alleged that the ticket of their principal, who won a House of Representatives race, had been offered to another person.
“We don’t expect this in the party at this critical time. We thought we will never hear of this kind of illegality but it is happening at the party. How can somebody emerge winner at the primary only to be denied the ticket of the party?”
House of Representative’s deputy whip, Nkiruka Onyejoicha and the House spokesperson, Mr Benjamin Kalu, were among a handful of National Assembly members sighted at the party secretariat apparently in relation to their eligibility to seek reelection on the party’s ticket.
While the youths were threatening that Adamu would not get out of the secretariat, the security operatives rushed and locked the entrance gate.
Following the development, security operatives pushed journalists out of the secretariat.
However, they (journalists) were later asked to identify themselves for security reasons before they were allowed to settle down.
THE Senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District, Smart Adeyemi, has rejected the outcome of the recently conducted APC National Assembly primary in his constituency. In the election, which was held in Kabba, headquarters of the Senatorial District, Adeyemi lost to a member of the House of Representatives, Sunday Karimi, who was announced as the candidate.
Adeyemi, who addressed journalists in Abuja, yesterday, however, said he had petitioned the National Chairman of APC, Adamu, to draw the attention of the party’s leadership to the alleged anomaly that happened during the poll.
The Senator said his ordeal started when he refused to comply with the advice of the governor of the state, Yahaya Bello, that he should withdraw from the race. He explained that Bello promised to make him the Chief of Staff when he wins the presidential election.
He said the governor also asked him to hold a meeting with the Chairman of the APC in the state, Abdullahi Bello, but that the parley ended in a deadlock.
“The party chairman suggested that I do not contest the elections, but rather join hands with them for the realisation of Project Governor Yahaya Bello to President Yahaya Bello. It is to the knowledge of my constituents and Nigerians at large that I have remained committed to this project and have not for once minced words about it.
“However, the condition for my stepping aside was to take on a position, which was technocratic in nature when my governor eventually emerges as president, and this did not align with my personal goals and aspirations as a journalist and a crusader for the common man.
“The meeting ended inconclusively, and thereafter, events metamorphosed into threats that I must not contest in the primary election.”
Meanwhile, the Senator has offered to sponsor five persons to Makkah, Saudi Arabia, on hajj pilgrimage for returning the cash he gave out to delegates during the party’s primary in the senatorial zone. Adeyemi’s return bid to the Senate was short-lived when he scored 43 votes in the primary election, putting him at a distant third.
Sunday Karimi, who clinched the party’s ticket, scored 288 votes, while Muyiwa Aina came second with 73 votes.
He said five among the delegates from Koton Karfe local government area returned the money he gave out for “transport, accommodation and feeding” expenses after they voted against him.
The lawmaker said he was moved by their honesty and asked them to go with the money with a promise to sponsor them to Makkah on hajj pilgrimage in 2023.
He said: “Normally, we give some support to delegates to augment their expenses, transport, feeding and accommodation. But don’t ask me how much.
“Delegates from a particular local government, which is predominantly inhabited by Muslims, were not allowed to vote for me because the returning officer, who is from that local government and equally a Muslim asked, them to support Sunday Karimi, who is from a neighbouring federal constituency to mine.
“This local government is called Koton Karfe. A week after the election, five of them came to Abuja and they are all Muslims. They said to me that in Islam, it is haram (prohibited) to take what does not belong to you.
“So, Senator, the money you gave for feeding, accommodation and transport to support us, we have returned all your money because we were not allowed to vote for you. But you are our candidate.” They bust into tears that they had been denied, but said please, take our photographs for record purposes and future.
“This is your money. I looked at them and said you have endeared Islam to my heart even though I’m a Christian. Did you return the money? Please go with the money. I have blessed this money for you. They started crying and I assured them that next year, the five of you, I will send you to Makkah. If your faith in Islam is like this, then you have made me respect Islam the more.”