May 18, 2024

Edo APC Primary: Group Faults Gov Otu-led Committee Election, Want Dennis Idahosa Declare Winner

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By Simeon OSAJIE

Angry youths of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State, today Monday 26th February, 2024 protested the result of last Saturday fresh governorship primary election that flung up Senator Monday Okpebholo a.k.a. ‘Akpakomiza’ as the governorship candidate of the party.

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Recall that Okpebholo emerged after an initial exercise two days earlier that led to three aspirants Okpebholo, Hon. Dennis Idahosa and Hon. Anamero Dakeri being declared winners by different members of the committee.

The National Working Committee (NWC) declared the exercise inconclusive which led to Saturday’s exercise that produced Okpebholo.

The protesters with different inscriptions like “Let Democracy Come and Stay Through Election Process”, “Give Us Our Mandate”, “Gibe Us Our Mandate For Democracy Sake”, etc. stormed the secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Edo State Council to register their demand.

Speaking to newsmen, leader of the group, Hon. Harrison Okpamen, APC member, Ovia South-West local government area of Edo state stated that they were at the NUJ to demand from the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party to set aside the Governor Bassey Otu-led Committee’s result and declare Hon. Dennis Idahosa the rightful winner on the strength of available extant documentary evidence.

According to him, the exercise that produced Idahosa as the candidate of the party is the authentic result and that the exercise that was conducted on Saturday was a mere allocation of votes alleging that while they were in the field to conclude the exercise as directed by the party, the others in connivance with member of the electoral committee led by the governor of Cross Rivers State, Sen. Bassey Otu were just allocating figures to aspirants.

In the letter address to the National Chairman of the APC which was read to journalists, Okpamen said in the earlier exercise, “They threw caution to the winds and began to announce the fake results.

According to Okpamen, “The gubernatorial primary election of APC for the selection of a candidate to be sponsored by the party for the governorship election in Edo State scheduled for September 2024 was originally fixed for 17th February, 2024.

“The party set up the Governor Hope Uzodinma Primary Election Committee to conduct the said primaries across the 192 wards of Edo State that make up the State. On that day, thousands of APC members trooped out to vote for the aspirants of their choice at designated venues approved by the party. Excited supporters of various aspirants recorded the exercise in their various locations using different electronic means.

“At the end of the exercise, the Governor Uzodinma Committee declared Hon. Dennis Idahosa as the winner with over 40,000 votes. There was wild jubilation across the State as this was consistent With the hard work put in by Hon. Dennis Idahosa also known as DENCO.

“There was however a very shocking development on that day, another group of persons who were described as returning Officers holed themselves in the rooms of a known hotel and came up with fictitious results. They threw caution to the winds and began to announce the fake results. The National Publicity Secretary of the Party issued a public statement to the effect that only the Hope Uzodinma Committee had the powers to announce results. Notwithstanding this, they gathered in the house of one of the aspirants at mid night to announce the fake results. They declared one Senator Monday Okpebholo as the elected candidate of the party for the said governorship elections.

“Following protests by all sides, APC decided to correct the anomalies that were associated with the previous primaries and fixed 22nd February, 2024 as the date to complete the primaries. Governor Bassey Otu was appointed the new Chairman of the primary election committee in place of Governor Hope Uzodinma. He held a stakeholders meeting on 22nd February, 2024 at the designated venue of collation and informed all present that the primaries would be re-conducted to eliminate the complaints associated with the aborted primaries. He was captured on camera and the reported by several electronic news media.”

Going further, he added: “Governor Otu then directed that party members should report at their wards for the conduct of the primaries. Aspirants began fresh mobilization and thousands of members were gathered at their various wards. To their surprise, no returning officers were deployed to these wards to conduct the primaries. Party members after waiting in vain for the arrival of the election officials began to queue behind posters of their preferred aspirants. It was clear that Hon. Dennis Idahosa was the preferred candidate of a vast majority of party members.

“Curiously, Governor Otu went out of circulation while the so-called LGA returning officers were enjoying the comfort of their hotel rooms with funds paid by aspirants for collection of nomination forms. Party leaders brought the results from their various LGAs to the collation center and there was no one to hand them to. Worried party Members waited in the vicinity of the collation center in vain. Suddenly, Governor, Otu arrived and ordered armed soldiers to evacuate party Members – After scattering party members disrespectfully like goats, he then announced some figures conjured from nowhere as votes scored in the said direct primaries. They turned out to be the same votes allocated to Senator Okpebholo at mid night in the primary election of 17th February, 2024 which was discredited by the party and upon which they ordered a proper per completion of the said primaries.

“The said primaries of 22nd February, 2024 did not comply with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 as aspirants were not given equal opportunities of being voted for by party members at the designated centers at the wards that make up Edo State. The party members present to vote did not have their votes cast recorded by any known office of the party’s National Secretariat. Quite clearly the result sheets _ used for the announcement of results were completed in the National Secretariat of the party as it did not flow from the reality on ground in Edo State.

“The said primaries of 17th  and 22nd  February, 2024 were not conducted by open secret ballot by APC as required by relevant provisions of APC constitution and the declaration of Senator Monday Okpebholo is not only unlawful, but a crass violation of the APC constitution.”

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