As the deadline for the submission of candidates to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) expires today, trouble almost engulfed the national secretariat of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), yesterday, over the alleged substitution of candidates.
Aggrieved candidates from Kogi, Enugu, Abia and Imo states besieged the party secretariat to register their anger with the Senator Abdullahi Adamu-led National Working Committee (NWC) over the development.
Heavily armed security personnel had to hurriedly ferry Adamu away from the party secretariat to avoid an unsavoury experience in the hands of aggrieved candidates and their supporters.
Scores of supporters of some of the candidates, who attempted to force their way into the premises of the party secretariat chanted war songs to register their displeasure over the development.
Ejike Okoli, speaking on behalf of four House of Representatives aspirants, who won primaries in Enugu State, alleged that they were denied the opportunity to fill the INEC forms that would make them eligible to contest the 2023 poll.
He alleged: “We were invited through an SMS to come to Abuja to collect and fill INEC forms only to be given the withdrawal forms, which we rejected. And they have since refused to give us the INEC forms.”
He further alleged that the party leadership had perfected plans to substitute their names with their favoured aspirants for inexplicable reasons.
One of the aggrieved supporters of an aspirant from Kogi State alleged that the ticket of their principal, who won a House of Representatives race, had been offered to another person.
“We don’t expect this in the party at this critical time. We thought we will never hear of this kind of illegality but it is happening at the party. How can somebody emerge winner at the primary only to be denied the ticket of the party?”
House of Representative’s deputy whip, Nkiruka Onyejoicha and the House spokesperson, Mr Benjamin Kalu, were among a handful of National Assembly members sighted at the party secretariat apparently in relation to their eligibility to seek reelection on the party’s ticket.
While the youths were threatening that Adamu would not get out of the secretariat, the security operatives rushed and locked the entrance gate.
Following the development, security operatives pushed journalists out of the secretariat.
However, they (journalists) were later asked to identify themselves for security reasons before they were allowed to settle down.
The Senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District, Smart Adeyemi, has rejected the outcome of the recently conducted APC National Assembly primary in his constituency. In the election, which was held in Kabba, headquarters of the Senatorial District, Adeyemi lost to a member of the House of Representatives, Sunday Karimi, who was announced as the candidate.
Adeyemi, who addressed journalists in Abuja, yesterday, however, said he had petitioned the National Chairman of APC, Adamu, to draw the attention of the party’s leadership to the alleged anomaly that happened during the poll.
The Senator said his ordeal started when he refused to comply with the advice of the governor of the state, Yahaya Bello, that he should withdraw from the race. He explained that Bello promised to make him the Chief of Staff when he wins the presidential election.
He said the governor also asked him to hold a meeting with the Chairman of the APC in the state, Abdullahi Bello, but that the parley ended in a deadlock.
“The party chairman suggested that I do not contest the elections, but rather join hands with them for the realisation of Project Governor Yahaya Bello to President Yahaya Bello. It is to the knowledge of my constituents and Nigerians at large that I have remained committed to this project and have not for once minced words about it.