OPEN PETITION TO THE APC NATIONAL CHAIRMAN
The National Chairman,
All Progressives Congress (APC),
APC National Secretariat, Blantyre Street, Wuse 2,
October 5, 2018.
IRREGULARITIES IN APC SENATORIAL PRIMARIES IN BENUE SOUTH: WHY I REJECT THE RESULT
The APC Benue South senatorial primary, like the primaries held under your watchful eyes, would have been a tremendous success were it not for the gross violations of the Party’s Guidelines for the Nomination of Candidates for The 2019 General Elections, and in direct violation of your strict warnings to party executives not to interfere with the process.
I am writing this open petition because of the exigencies of time to appeal the irregularities and malpractices that characterized the exercise.
There was serious manipulation of the entire process including the impersonation of genuine delegates by substituting their names with that of strangers most of who are neither registered members nor executive members of the party, especially in LGAs where I have tremendous support.
GROUNDS OF APPEAL/PETITION :
Noncompliance with extant APC Laws
Exclusion and disenfranchisement of eligible voters
Usurpation of the role of aspirants’ agents to write for illiterate voters
Violence, intimidation, and impunity
FACTS OF THE PETITION:
Elections held on the 3rd of October, 2018; the following results were declared: Stephen Lawani – 1321, Daniel Onjeh – 1059, Dr. Isaac Egboja – 21; Invalid Votes – 49 (mostly m mine)
The margin between me and the presumed winner was 262 votes
Votes were counted and announced without entering them into the APC Primaries Result Sheet.
None of the Agents for the three Aspirants signed nor given the result sheet because none was provided
The State and Local Government leadership of the party were directly involved in the conduct of the primaries against the provision of the law
The entire delegates from Ohimini (over 300) were disenfranchised
The electoral officers cancelled Ohimini votes without a substantial reason after one was already cast
My agent, Hon. Mathias Omikpa, vehemently protested the illegal prevention of over 90 councilors to vote. His protest was backed by providing the relevant sections of the electoral guideline which spells out the rules for the constitution of electoral colleges for indirect primaries.
Delegates were harassed, intimidated, blackmailed, induced, and physically assaulted on the queues.
Senator George Akume issued a directive to the electoral officers to declare the results against the consideration of inconclusiveness
Chief Mutiu Are, the chairman of the committee, said councilors were not part of the election against the clear provisions of the Guidelines.
Abubakar Maru headed the committee which also comprised of Hon. Isah Song and Biodun Oyebanji.
MY BRIEF ON POINT OF LAW :
My opponent, Chief Stephen Lawani, purportedly scored 1,321, while I scored 1, 059 votes. The third aspirant, Dr. Isaac Egboja, scored 21 votes. There were 49 invalid votes, mostly mine. In spite of my agent’s protest at the venue of the poll, over 90 councilors, who were all my supporters, were disallowed from voting, and Ohimini Local Government, which is my stronghold (I won overwhelmingly in the 2015 general elections and the 2016 re-run elections in that LGA) had its over 300 delegates disenfranchised. Yet, the same delegates are to be used for the House of Representatives and House of Assembly elections. They came with nine lists from the national secretariat, but they elected to use eight and rejected one: Ohimini’s based on no other reason than someone on the convention ground objecting the authenticity of the list. Denying Ohimini delegates from voting (their state, zonal, and local government executive members) violates the following provisions of the Guidelines for the Nomination of Candidates (Section II: Electoral Process; Subsections a, b, c, d, e, f, h, i, j). By allowing Hon. Agboga, a former Member of the Federal House of Representatives to vote, they complied with only Section g.
The disenfranchisement of councilors goes contrary to the Party’s Guidelines for the Nomination of Candidates for the 2019 General Elections: Indirect Primaries (Section 14, II): The national electoral college shall comprise among others:
All elected Local Area/Area Council Chairman, and Deputy Chairman who are members of the party.
(j) All elected councilors of the Local Government/Area Council who are members of the party.
When I confronted Chief Mutiu Are on the exclusion of councilors against the guideline cited above, he appeared to be ignorant on the position of the extant and relevant law regarding the participation of councilors in National Assembly primary elections. He denied that councilors have no role to play in National Assembly Elections, and that the list from Abuja did not include the names of councilors. On Ohimini, Chief Are said Alhaji Maru should have used the list from Abuja which was given from the National Secretariat.
Two LGAs, Okpokwu and Agatu, had their delegates’ list completely ignored and fictitious names substituted to facilitate the casting of fraudulent votes for my opponent. Those who voted were brought in from Otupko and given ID cards at the premises. Some were even identified as PDP members and many pretended to be illiterates whose votes were all ascribed to Chief Lawani.
Against the normal practice, electoral officers from the party’s national secretariat—Hon. Isah Song in particular—wrote most of the names of the preferred candidate for all illiterate voters. This task should have been the three aspirants’ agents exclusive preserve. In the process, Hon. Song illegally ascribed many of my votes to Chief Stephen Lawani. A careful check of the ballot papers cast in the election and comparison with other documents filled by Hon. Isah Song and the other electoral officers will prove that the handwritings on both documents are the same with their own.
When I noticed the shenanigans going on, I spoke to a senior security officer who told me Senator George Akume, the presumed leader of the party in the state, called and informed them to announce the results without Ohimini. Please, note that Akume had earlier asked me to step down for his friend and business associate, Chief Lawani, promising me a ministerial appointment. When I declined, he told me the state will go for indirect primaries since I will defeat the unpopular Lawani in direct primaries. That I can never win in indirect primaries. In his drive to actualize this inordinate and desperate ambition, Sen. Akume deployed the entire state, local government and ward party machinery to work against my victory.
The state party chairman, Abba Yaro, had gone round telling everyone that cared to listen that any person other than Lawani who bought the APC Benue South senatorial nomination form was wasting his time and money. Thus, while I went on campaign to all the nooks and crannies of all nine LGAs that make up the zone, my opponent was never seen campaigning anywhere since he had been assured of victory no matter what by Akume, whom he refers to as ‘the Oracle’. Afraid of the inevitability of our victory, Abba Yaro and other stakeholders shipped in armed thugs from Makurdi with the sole purpose of disrupting the polls. My second agent, Moses Agaba, was whipped and beaten to stupor by thugs on the direct orders of Abba Yaro. The same Abba Yaro and Alhassan Mohammed, the Zonal Chairman, openly harassed, and physically assaulted the Ado APC Chairman, Mr. Adaudu Alegwu for insisting on following due process during accreditation. He was threatened with expulsion from the party.
None of the agents signed the results sheets because they were not presented with one. The results were merely announced verbally. This is in utter violation of the APC Primaries guidelines under GENERAL PROVISIONS as follows:
– After counting the votes, the results shall be publicly announced and properly entered on the APC Official Result Sheet.
– Any result recorded on ordinary prayer shall not be accepted.
Convinced that the election was marred by irregularities, malpractices, and noncompliance with the APC Electoral Guidelines and Extant Party Laws, particularly where electoral officers were provided with sensitive electoral materials from the Party Headquarters including result sheet and delegates’ list for the nine local governments that make up the Benue South Senatorial Zone, but elected to ignore their judicious use, deliberately excluded all elected councilors under the APC platform in Benue South who were eligible voters in the primary, and depriving a whole local government (Ohimini) from voting, coupled with the fact that the party leadership at the state and local government levels openly displayed bias for my opponent, who is their preferred candidate, by manipulating the process through taking charge of the accreditation, brazenly intimidating, inducing, and harassing genuine delegates on the queues and replacing them with imposters, all these led to the conclusion that the election is flawed and unfair as vote cast were not recorded and the electoral officers on their volition chose to use lists from eight local governments and ignored one without any authority to do so.
These gross acts of impunity, violence, disenfranchisement of eligible voters, and noncompliance to the guidelines, substantially undermined APC laws and guidelines, and vitiated the entire exercise. I thus wish to call for the outright cancellation of the whole election.
Once again, because of the exigencies of time, in the interim and in the absence of an appeal panel for the National Assembly Primaries in Benue State, I wish to restate the obvious: that the APC NWC are properly vested with the powers to take or make exigent decisions under the provision of the extant APC Laws and Electoral Guidelines for Primary Elections as reproduced below: Under general provisions of the Guidelines, paragraph 8, “Notwithstanding the provisions of the guidelines or any other rules of the Party, the decision of the NWC acting on behalf of the NEC shall be final and binding on all Aspirants, Officers, and Organs of the Party in respect of the Primary Election to the National Assembly.”
I have paid my dues in building the party since its inception and metamorphosis from AC to ACN and to APC. I contested for Ogbadibo Local Government Chairman, Member House of Representatives for Ado/Okpokwu/Ogbadibo Federal Constituency, and I ran for the Senate against a seating Senate President (David Mark) in 2015 which resulted in an Appeal Court-ordered rerun election in 2016, where David Mark purportedly scored 84,192 votes against my 71,621 votes, with 29,000 cancelled votes, majority of which were mine.
The only reward I seek for my over twelve years of loyalty to the Party from the inception of one of its prominent legacy parties against my main opponent, Chief Stephen Lawani, who registered with the Party barely one year ago, is justice.
Please, be rest assured of my highest esteem for your office and person.
Comrade Daniel Donald Onjeh
APC Benue South Senatorial Aspirant