•Appeal panel upholds disqualification of 5 aspirants
The Oye-led faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, will, today, elect its standard bearer for the November 6, 2021 governorship election in Anambra state.
A notice from the party advised members to converge at the Ekwueme Square, Awka, the state capital, today, Wednesday, June 23. Members were required, in the notice, to attend the primary election in their party uniform and membership cards.
It will be recalled that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had, in a reply to enquiries seeking to know whether the electoral umpire was notified about the party’s Congress, in line with the 21-day notice required by Section 85 of the Electoral Act, denied receiving any such notification.
In one of the letters, the commission addressed its position to the principal counsel of a law firm, Omas and Partners, who had, earlier, written and asked for the information while relying on the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.
The letter dated June 18, 2021 had read, “This is to inform you that the Commission did not receive the statutory 21 days’ notice for the nomination of APGA Anambra State governorship candidate from Victor Oye led APGA.
“Accordingly, the commission did not monitor the said ward congress and as such, there is no monitoring report of the Commission.”
The second letter, which was addressed to the national chairman of APGA also read, “Please refer to your letter dated June 16, 2021 forwarding the list of delegates for the nomination of APGA’s Governorship Candidate in the forthcoming Anambra State Governorship Election.
“This is to notify you that the records of the Commission indicate that APGA did not duly notify the Commission of the date of the Congress where the ad hoc delegates were elected, as required by Section 85 of the Electoral Act 2010 (As Amended).
“Accordingly, the Commission is unable to confirm if the Ad hoc Delegates list submitted by your party is the outcome of a democratic process, as required by Section 87(7) of the Electoral Act 2010 (As Amended).
“The Commission wishes to emphasise the need for full compliance with all legal requirements for the conduct of Party Primaries as earlier communicated in the Commission’s letter to your Party dated 37 June 2021 (REF: INEC/DEPM/UPPM/119/1/37).”
Orient Daily had reported that the two letters by INEC could, therefore, render the Oye-led APGA governorship primary today an exercise in futility as the use of invalid delegate’s list will exclude the party from the election.
It had also been reported that another faction of the party, led by Jude Okeke, had accused the suspended Oye group of deliberate refusal to submit 21 days’ notice for his faction to the commission.
Oye was further accused of having a senatorial ticket deal with those described as enemies of the party with a promise to help use technicalities to exclude APGA from the ballot.
The publicity secretary of the Okeke faction, Ikechukwu Chukwunyere, in his reaction, had said the faction remained the only option and hope for the party to field a candidate in Anambra since he duly submitted all the notices.
Chukwunyere said, “We are aware of the position of INEC on this matter. As disheartening as it is, there is still hope for the party. Although the Oye faction had missed the issuance of statutory notice, all hope is not lost if the party backs the Okeke faction. This is because the Okeke faction has served all valid notices for the APGA primary in Anambra. It is important to join hands with the faction now if the party must take part in the election.”
APGA state secretary, Barr. Tony Ifeanya, who, when contacted on telephone, had said he was still studying the development, had insisted that the struggles in the party would not derail the primary election of the party scheduled for (today), Wednesday, June 23, 2021.
He said the leader of the other faction, Jude Okeke, was a total stranger to the party and had no right to take the chairmanship position against the constitution of the party.
“Jude Okeke is not a member of APGA in any way. He is a stranger and not even a member of the national working committee.
“Our constitution has a way of removing the national chairman. How can he jump to become the national chairman? It is only by national convention which must be convened by the national chairman.”
On what the party was doing on the matter, Ifeanya said the party would find a way to correct the present issue, insisting that the development would not affect the party’s primary.
Party insiders disclosed to our political desk that the other two factions which have emerged in the party and led by Chief Dozie Njoku and Barr. Jude Okeke, respectively also plan to hold parallel primaries.
The source who declined to be mentioned in print claimed, “When the Oye group is done with their own primaries tomorrow (today, Wednesday June 23), others will have theirs too. The Njoku faction will hold theirs on June 25 while the Okeke group is planning theirs for July 1. Let’s see whose primaries will be accepted by INEC,” the source concluded.
Meanwhile, the party’s screening committee, sitting in Abuja, had, yesterday, dismissed the appeals of all the five disqualified aspirants seeking to reverse their disqualification and allow them participate in today’s primaries.
A letter, detailing the decision of the appeal panel on the five appellants and signed by secretary of the committee, Barr. Shodeinde Emmanuel, said the aspirants, Ifeanyi Ozoka, Nonso Okafor, Akachukwu Nwankpo, Chukwuma Umeoji and Carter Umuoduagu stood disqualified.
The committee said the reasons for disqualifying them still stood.
A sample of such reasons was cited thus: “The result of the 3-man Governorship Screening Committee and the publication of same is in compliance with Article 9 of the APGA Electoral Guidelines for Anambra State Governorship Primary Election 2021. From the available documents before the Screening Appeal panel, the membership status of the Appellant is indeed less than 18 months as captured by the Governorship Screening committee.”