Aggrieved All Progressives Congress (APC) aspirants for Kogi State governorship election have accused the leadership of the party of favouring the incumbent Governor Yahaya Bello.
Addressing newsmen after several hours meeting in Abuja, the aspirants, numbering eight, lamented what they described as the brazenness and impunity that characterised the conduct and handling of the screening exercise.
They noted that from credible information, the only cleared aspirants in addition to incumbent Governor Yahaya Bello are lackeys of the governor whose nominations were purchased by the governor, and who have no intention to contest the forthcoming elections
They claimed that the situation made it inevitable for the aspirants to proceed in a manner that reserves their rights under law.
The eight aspirants are Hadiza Ibrahim, Alhaji Sani Lulu Abdullahi, Yakubu Mohammed, Mohammed Abubakar Audu, General Patrick Akpa, Rear Admiral Jubrin Usman, Babatunde Irukera, and Prof. Seidu Onailo
Speaking on behalf of the aggrieved aspirants, Babatunde Irukera alleged that they were ambushed as there was no appeal committee to address their case, stressing that the process of announcing their disqualification was also flawed as they only got to hear of it from the social media.
He disclosed that they were informed on Friday in Lokoja that there will be a meeting with the aspirants in Abuja on Monday, adding that they were later informed about the meeting with the Appeals Committee scheduled for 10am on Monday at Barcelona Hotel in Abuja.
He said rather than the meeting holding, they were kept waiting at the venue for several hours, stressing that both the aspirants and their supporters are currently in a dilemma, not knowing whether their candidate is on the ballot or not.
While warning against a repeat of the Zamfara episode, he said “the handling of the process is wrong. We lost everything in Zamfara as a result of procedural error. We should toe the path of caution and prudence to avoid catastrophic losses.
“There will certainly be unintended consequence because it is difficult to tell the people not to enforce their rights. There are people out there who have aggregated their choice in us, to eliminate those choices from those people is grievous,” he said.
Expressing reservations over the manner the screening was conducted, the aspirants said: “In the interim, delegates and citizens in Kogi have read, become apprehensive and confused about the candidacy of their preferred aspirants and or, the possibility of the conduct of the primary elections on August 29 as announced.
“Inquiries at the APC national secretariat convey a continuing insistence that the party has not received the report of the screening committee or made a decision about the screening exercise.
“Aspirants have now been irreparably damaged, their electoral fortunes and chances pre-empted, and their rights and privileges as citizens and party members completely undermined.
“The entire conduct of the screening exercise, the manner, irregularities and apparent inconsistencies and falsehood associated with the exercise is egregious and to railroad aspirants.
“The purported report that has been published specifically makes allegations against aspirants that are unsubstantiated, misleading and entirely inaccurate.
“The party has a process for screening, parameters for screening, and appellate process in the party’s constitution.
“There is absolutely no evidence that the party followed any known or acceptable process in the screening or appellate process whether in accordance with the constitution or rules, or ethos of the party or any such association.
“There are credible allegations that the only cleared aspirants in addition to Governor Yahaya Bello (incumbent) are lackeys/cronies of the governor whose nominations were purchased by the governor, and who have no evidence of campaigns or intention to contest the forthcoming elections.
“It is sinister that all these are occurring barely three days to the date of the elections.
“Under the circumstances, aspirants who sacrificed and committed significant resources including N22.5 million in purchasing nomination forms, and campaigns across the state are constrained to consider their remedies under any prevailing laws and to the fullest extent of such laws.
“Such remedies include pre-emptive action in the coming hours that could prevent the APC from conducting the primaries slated for August 29.
“While aspirants recognise the magnitude of, and unintended consequences of outcomes associated with pursuing the enforcement of their rights, the brazenness and impunity characterising the conduct and handling of the Kogi screening exercise make it inevitable that aspirants proceed in a manner that reserves their rights under law.”