…as members accuse Ayu of replacing INEC-certified delegates’ list
Controversies have trailed the House of Assembly and House of Representatives primary elections held by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ogun State on Sunday where the party was to elect candidates for the State House of Assembly and House of Representatives.
From Obafemi-Owode Owode to Abeokuta North, Ewekoro to Odeda, Ijebu East to Ogun Waterside local government areas and other parts of the state, reports of doctoring and outright swapping of the delegates list certified by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) marred the exercise.
A total of 708 adhoc delegates and 20 National delegates had emerged from the ward congress and local government area congress held by the party and monitored by INEC.
But, surprisingly, the National Chairman, Senator Iyiorchia Ayu, singlehandedly replaced the INEC-certified delegates list with another one that was generated by a governorship aspirant who has been boasting that his father had bought over Senator Ayu with 500,000 dollars (about N300 million).
“In view of the fact that the alleged action of the National Chairman is clearly in flagrant violation of Section 82 (3) of the Electoral Act 2022, the aggrieved parties or delegates are at liberty to seek redress in the court of law,” a lawyer, Babatunde Ogunse, said.
“In Ifo Local Government Area, attacks were unleashed on the delegates from Ewekoro PDP who went to Ifo to participate in the primary election to choose the party’s candidate for the House of Representatives for Ifo/Ewekoro Federal Constituency.
“The injured delegates and those who luckily escape this physical attacks unharmed from Ewekoro Local Government have vowed to stay away from the rescheduled primary slated for 9am on Monday, if the said primary election will still hold at Ifo.
“Some of the state party officials with active connivance of some persons in Abuja are consciously subverting the authentic and legitimate delegates lists with forged ones that did not emanate from the legitimate congress duly monitored, signed and approved by INEC,” an aspirant said.
Already, the Chairmen of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Abeokuta North and Obafemi/Owode local government areas in Ogun state, Alhaji Akeem Anifowose and Mr Muyiwa Ojebiyi on Sunday night declared that there were no primary elections for the State House of Assembly and House of Representatives in the two local government areas.
Anifowose and Ojebiyi cited disagreement arising from alleged attempt to use mutilated, doctored and questionable delegates list purportedly from the National Headquarters of PDP by some members of the party to conduct the primary as the reason why the primary elections could not hold in both areas.
The chairmen who addressed reporters also distanced themselves from the gathering of delegates and supporters of the party at State Party Secretariat, in Magbon area of Abeokuta, the state capital.
Anifowose and Ojebiyi said although the primary elections were supposed to have commenced at 8am on Sunday but was delayed till 5pm following suspicious manipulation which resulted in the late arrival of materials from party officials in Abuja and the state.
They, however, noted that after the verification of the certified authentic delegates lists duly signed by the INEC Headquarters, Abuja, by the Local Government Party chairmen, aspirants and delegates in the presence of INEC officials and security agencies,
some politicians stormed the venues of the primaries with the alleged questionable delegates lists and attempted to foist them on the people but it was rejected and in the ensuing commotion, everybody dispersed and went away.
The chairmen also alleged that the State Working Committee (SWC), was planning to conduct illegal party primaries to elect candidates for state constituencies and Federal Constituencies ahead of 2023 general elections.
They said such steps, if taken at the State Secretariat, would translate to a violation of the Electoral Act, 2022.
According to the two chairmen, there were noticeable discrepancies in the lists of delegates that the returning officers appointed by the party and the ones signed and stamped by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Headquarters which were later certified and handed over to them.
The chairmen also declared that they would never be part of any exercise that may take place outside the designated places and urged the PDP National Secretariat to intervene in the matter in the interest of peace and the party.
“We have been in opposition for over 12 years. What is the sense is rigging and manipulating an internal election just because of one person. If he cannot win fair and square in an internal election, how will he win the general election?,” Ojebiyi asked rhetorically.
Even the state chairman of the party, Hon. Sikirulai Ogundele said the late arrival of election materials caused the delay, adding that of the 20 local government areas of the state, the party primaries had been concluded in just two local governments – Ipokia and Ijebu North.