BENUE SOUTH APC SENATORIAL PRIMARIES: WHY WE ARE NOT ACCEPTING THE RESULT
- THE CONTEST WAS BETWEEN SEN. AKUME AND I NOT CHIEF LAWANI
The primaries held on October 3, 2019 in Otukpo was marred with irregularities, intimidation, impersonation and the disenfranchisement of genuine delegates by using the party structure at all levels to subvert the process in favor of the preferred candidate.
Our grounds for appeal are:
- 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. The margin of Chief Lawani’s purported victory is 262, while over 90 councilors, who are all my supporters, were not allowed to vote, and the entire 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.
- The Ohimini, which the delegates where disenfranchised by the suspension of the entire local government from participation, already had one vote cast by a delegate from the local government , Hon. Agbo Oga, for House of Representative Member.
- Two LGAs, Okpokwu and Agatu, had their delegate lists completely ignored and fictitious names substituted to facilitate the casting of fraudulent votes for my opponent. The State and Zonal Chairmen of the Party openly attacked the Ado local government chairman, while on queue to vote for not supporting their alleged project to deliver their preferred candidate.
- Against the normal practice, it was electoral officers from the party’s national secretariat that wrote the names of the preferred candidate for all illiterate voters instead of the three aspirants’ agents. In the process, many of my votes were illegally ascribed to Chief Stephen Lawani.
- 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 the same Akume had called me and told 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.
- The 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 many in the party refer to as ‘the Oracle’.
- Of the three aspirants’ agents, only Lawani’s signed the result sheet because of the manifest manipulation and irregularities that trailed the whole exercise.
I would like the appeal committee to note that one of my supporters was whipped and beaten to stupor by thugs acting on the direct orders of the APC state party chairman, Abba Yaro. But for our matured response, there would have been mayhem and bloodshed. This is not without precedence: At the last zonal consultative meeting of the party in Otupko, two innocent youths were gunned down by the same hired thugs, right on the premises of the party’s zonal secretariat. When we noticed some strange faces with barely concealed weapons at the venue of the primary, we quickly alerted the security agents who drove them out of the premises and prevented them from snatching the ballot boxes and causing mayhem as I was leading comfortably.
My prayer is for the primary election to be declared inconclusive, and the anomalies mentioned above to be rectified and all disenfranchised delegates be allowed to vote freely for their choice since I am confident of my overwhelming support among the majority of party members and elected councilors.
I want to specially thank all the genuine Benue South delegates, who defied intimidation, blackmail, mouthwatering offers, physical assaults and the scorching weather to stand by me.