GOVERNORSHIP PRIMARY: Why I must be recognized Edo APC candidate – Idahosa

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  • Writes INEC, claims he won February 17 exercise

The crisis that erupted after the governorship primary election of the All Progressives Congress in Edo State may not be over as one of the aspirants, Dennis Idahosa, has written to the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Mahmood Yakubu, not to accept any other name as the candidate of the party apart from him, claiming that he won the primary election.

In a letter dated March 4, 2024, written by Wole Olanipekun (SAN), marked WOC/ABJ/VOL.01/074/2024 and addressed to the Chairman of INEC, Yakubu, Idahosa said a legal action with Suit No.FHC/ABJ/CS/274/2024 between himself vs Sen. Monday Okpebholo, the APC and the INEC has been instituted where he is claiming the candidacy of the party and urged INEC to take cognisance of the suit.

In the suit, Idahosa said that he won the February 17, 2024 exercise monitored by the INEC where he was declared the winner and that there was no basis for the supplementary election ordered by the leadership of the party as no reason was given for the decision.

He also argued that February 22 was not a standalone election but a continuation of the February 17 exercise and so the results of the 17th exercise cannot be jettisoned.

He said, “The record of INEC/the commission will show that, under your leadership, the commission monitored the Edo State APC primary election for the nomination of the governorship candidate of the APC under the prior notification that the primary election will be held on 17th February 2024.

“The primary election was indeed held, and our client garnered 40,453 votes (a copy of the result certified by INEC is attached herein as Annexure 1). INEC’s report of monitoring the election confirms that, at the end of the process, our client was returned as the duly elected candidate of the APC (a copy of the INEC report as certified by the commission is attached as Annexure 2).

“The APC primary election committee that conducted the election also confirmed that our client won the election as evidenced by a report signed by all members of the committee (without a single instance of dissent).

“Our client is aware that the APC subsequently confirmed to INEC that the primary election was held as scheduled on 17th February 2024; however, without giving any reason, indicated that the election was inconclusive and will be completed on 22nd February 2024 and invited INEC to monitor the completion exercise.

“At the end and in respect of the completion exercise, Sen. Monday Okpebholo was said to have scored 12, 433 votes whilst our client was allocated 6,541 votes. Sen. Monday Okpebholo scored 100 votes at the primary election of 17th February 2024 (a copy of the result sheet from the completed primary election on 22nd February 2024 certified by INEC is attached as Annexure 3).

“Our client disagrees that the primary election of 17th February 2024 was inconclusive or that there was any basis to schedule what was described as a completion of the process. Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/ 274/2024 has been instituted to ventilate that challenge.

“As things stand, INEC is in custody of two results for the APC primary election for the 2024 governorship election in Edo State (one dated 17th February 2024, and the other dated 23rd February 2024). The summation of the votes in both results demonstrates clearly that our client won the primary election even if his votes from the 17th February 2024 results are the only ones reckoned with.

“Put differently, an addition of the votes of all the other aspirants from both results will neither match nor supersede our client’s votes from 17th February 2024. At best (assuming it is valid), the completion primary election of 22nd February 2024 was a supplementary election.

“Fortunately, the commission under your leadership has had cause to conduct supplementary elections including the 2018 governorship election in Osun State where a winner was declared by INEC upon a summation of the votes from the main and supplementary election.”

The crisis started when the first primary was conducted on February 17, as it produced three winners.

The Chairman of the Electoral Committee of the primary, Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State, announced Idahosa as the winner, while the returning officer, Stanley Ugboaja, declared Monday Okpebholo as the winner.

Also, Ojo Babatunde, who claimed to be representing the returning officers in all the local governments, declared Anamero Dekeri as the winner of the election.

With the confusion, the National Working Committee of the party ordered a rerun on February 22, under the chairmanship of Governor Bassey Otu of Cross Rivers State, who replaced Uzodimma as the head of the electoral committee.

After the exercise, Okpebholo was declared the winner with 12,433 votes to defeat Idahosa, who polled 6,541.

Meanwhile, the National Working Committee of the People’s Democratic Party has set up an 11-member Edo State Post-Primary Election Reconciliation Committee after the governorship primaries.

The PDP explained in a statement over the weekend that the committee was constituted pursuant to the provisions of its Constitution and Guidelines.

Also, the PDP candidate in the February 25, 2023 Presidential Election, Atiku Abubakar, has pleaded with other aspirants and aggrieved stakeholders to reconcile and negotiate to make sure that Edo remains a PDP state after the emergence of Ighodalo in the governorship primaries.

The Edo State governorship primary election was conducted on February 22, 2024, where Dr. Asuerinme Ighodalo, said to be the preferred candidate of the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, picked the PDP ticket.

Also, at a parallel primary on the same date, the state Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu, emerged as another candidate.

It will be recalled that the PDP issued Certificate of Return to Ighodalo on February 26, 2024, while Shaibu stormed the party secretariat the following day to demand for his Certificate of Return.

According to the PDP statement, the committee is charged with the responsibility of reconciling all critical stakeholders and all party members in Edo State ahead of the September 21, 2024 Governorship Election in the State.

Members of the committee are the Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed, Chairman, former Kaduna State Governor, Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi, member, former Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson, member, Tunde Ogheha , member and Mrs Stella Omu, member.

Others are Esther Uduehi, member, Olalere Oyewunmi, member, Sandy Onor, member, Isiaka Sola Gold, member, Emmanuel Enoidem, SAN, Secretary, while, Jacob Otorkpa will serve as the Administrative Secretary

The NWC urged all critical stakeholders and members of the PDP in Edo State to remain steadfast and continue to work hard for the success of the party and governorship candidate, Asuerinme Ighodalo.