By Soni Daniel, Dayo Johnson, Clifford Ndujihe, Jimitota Onoyume, Wole Mosadomi, Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Daud Olatunji, Rotimi Ojomoyela, Omeiza Ajayi & Davies Iheamachor
•As Govs Akeredolu, el-Rufai storm Aso Rock
•Court stops Kaduna Central primary over exclusion of Uba Sani
•Three serving senators, Rep lose return tickets in Niger
•Police lockdown APC headquarters over protest
•Ajimobi wins senatorial ticket in Oyo, disqualified aspirants kick in Ondo, Ekiti adopts direct primary
ABUJA—THE intrigues, crises and complaints trailing the All Progressives Congress, APC, primaries across the country continued, yesterday, as President Muhammadu Buhari met with Governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir Ahmed el-Rufai and the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, behind closed doors at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The two APC governors arrived together at the Presidential Villa at about 3.15p.m.
Although the agenda of the meeting was not disclosed to journalists as they did not talk to State House correspondents, there were indications that their visit may not be unconnected with political developments in their states.
Recall that Governor el-Rufai and the Senator representing Kaduna Central Senatorial Zone, Shehu Sani have been in a running battle and belong to different factions of the party in the state but the National Working Committee, NWC of APC reportedly chose the Senator as the sole candidate from his senatorial zone, contrary to stiff opposition from the governor’s camp. The development forced Uba Sani, who is loyal to el-Rufai to head to the court where he got an order stopping the APC from conducting the Kaduna Central senatorial primary over his exclusion. The Kaduna State governor has been insisting that the primary should be held to determine who flies the party’s flag in the 2019 senatorial poll instead of giving Senator Shehu Sani an automatic return ticket.
Similarly, Senator Ajayi Borrofice was to be returned unopposed for his Ondo North Senatorial district but Akeredolu wants a primary.
Most APC governors were not comfortable with the party’s decision to return the lawmakers unopposed because of their loyalty during the gale of mass defections to the opposition parties following the decision of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, to dump the APC in order to pursue his presidential ambition on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP.
Sources close to el-Rufai and Akeredolu hinted that they were being spited by the Adams Oshiomhole-led APC leadership for daring to kick against his emergence as the national chairman of the party.
The two governors and their Kogi State counterpart, Yahaya Bello, were among governors, who were sympathetic to the former National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and had worked for the extension of his tenure to enable him lead the party to the 2019 general polls.
The move was stoutly opposed by some elements in the party including Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State and Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State among others, who insisted on the coming on board of Oshiomhole.
APC office shut over protests
Meanwhile, Abuja national secretariat of the ruling APC was practically on a security lock-down, yesterday, following a violent protest by scores of youths protesting against the adoption of direct primaries for the APC senatorial ticket in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
The angry youths, who said they are FCT natives, said the use of direct primaries would mean that a non-FCT native would clinch the ruling party’s ticket for the Abuja sole senatorial seat.
This was as two serving APC senators lost their return tickets in Niger. Also, Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State secured a ticket to return to the Senate; six disqualified aspirants in Ekiti called for the resignation of Adams Oshiomhole and Ondo State chapter of the party reversed itself and accepted direct primaries to elect its candidates.
Protests in Abuja
The protesting youths chased away security operatives at the gate but there was no party official to address them. They said since all contestants for the various positions in the FCT agreed on the use of indirect primaries, they asked why the National Working Committee, NWC, was imposing the direct method on them.
They claimed that the party was planning to impose a particular aspirant on them, pointing out that through the indirect mode, they are sure that an indigene of the FCT will emerge as the candidate of the party.
The youths who became violent, pulled down the security wire around the secretariat, destroyed the billboard in front of the building, blocked the entrance, and dared the police to shoot them.
The arrival of the FCT Commissioner of Police, Bala Ciroma, averted a brutal confrontation between the police and the irate youths, who chanted anti-Adams Oshiomhole slogans.
Some of the protesting youths, who were later dispersed by the police, promised to launch a more vicious attack on the secretariat if the NWC decision was not reversed.
Nine aspirants are contesting the senatorial primary and 15 aspirants are in for the House of Representatives seats in the FCT.
Spokesman of the group, Usman Mohammed Karshi said the group was protesting against injustice and imposition of mode of election on the FCT and original inhabitants of the territory. They also called for Oshiomhole’s resignation, accusing him of working for the opposition.
Support for Buhari
“We are here to protest injustice; we are here to protest imposition. We are here to sound it loud and clear that we are solidly in support of President Muhammadu Buhari come 2019. We are here to say it to all who have ears that in FCT , results will not be written. We are here to state it loud and clear that FCT APC is going on indirect primary. We are here to make it clear to Mr Oshiomhole that we are Comrades and that is why we voted for him as chairman, so we are appealing to his sense of reason. He should be reasonable and give us what we want. FCT APC rejects direct primary.
“NEC was very clear about it that all should go back to their states and chose whatever method they want, that it is either you go by direct, indirect or consensus. The FCT leaders, all nine senatorial and 15 House of Representatives aspirants met and agreed that FCT is going for indirect primary. Why should Oshiomhole change it? It is unacceptable. You cannot write results here in the name of direct primary. It is not possible,” he said.
Shehu Sani’s automatic ticket: Court stops APC
A Kaduna State High Court, yesterday, restrained the APC from conducting the primary to select the party’s candidate for Kaduna Central Senatorial District.
The court gave the ruling based on an ex-parte motion brought by Uba Sani, a senatorial aspirant, against the APC for excluding him from the contest slated for Tuesday but later moved to yesterday.
The resort to court by the aggrieved followed the release of the names of Senatorial aspirants in Kaduna on Tuesday by the APC, which indicated that the incumbent Senator, Shehu Sani, was returned unopposed for the Kaduna Central contest, leaving out no fewer than four other aspirants.
Ruling on the application, the court ordered the APC, its chairman, Adams Oshiomhole; the Independent National Electoral Commission and Senator Shehu Sani to maintain the status-quo prior to October 2, when the APC excluded Uba Sani and other aspirants from the contest.
In a motion brought pursuant to Order 15(1) and Order 36 of the High Court Civil Procedure Rules of Kaduna State, the court granted leave to the applicant to issue and serve the writ of summons out of jurisdiction on the defendants.
Vanguard learned that the restraining order had already been served on the APC at its national headquarters.
Uba Sani’s lawyer, Sule Shuaibu, explained that his client took this step to protect his democratic rights after exhausting the internal party grievance-redress processes.
How three serving senators, one Rep lost return tickets in Niger
There was shock in Niger State as two serving senators lost at the primaries in the state.
The three senators were defeated via the direct primaries conducted across the three senatorial districts of the state that ended on Tuesday night.
In Niger East Senatorial District, two-time senator and Chairman, Senate committee on Judiciary and Human Rights, David Umoru, lost to new entrant, Alhaji Sani Musa, while Chairman, Senate Committee on Information, senator Aliyu Abdullahi, also lost to the state serving Commissioner for Local Government, Community Development and Chieftaincy Affairs, Zakari Jikantoro. Senator Mustapha Sani also lost to Birima Enagi.
Also in Niger South, former House of Representatives member, Baba shehu Agaie, emerged as the party flag bearer after defeating the former Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Abdulrahaman Gimba and former PDP Chairman in the state, Abdulraham Enagi. In Niger Nnorth Senatorial District, Mohammadu Sani Duba emerged unopposed.
Meanwhile, all the three senatorial candidates for the PDP in the state won the primaries to contest for the National Assembly next year.
In Niger East senatorial district, Ibrahim Isyaku, emerged the party candidates after defeating three other contestants.
Omo-Agege wins parallel primary
Senator Ovie Omo-Agege has emerged winner of the Delta Central Senatorial primary of APC, conducted, yesterday, at Udu Local Government Area of Delta State.
Announcing the result, the Returning Officer, General Lawrence Onoja retd, said Senator Omo-Agege polled 2,360 out of the 2,414 votes cast, thus emerging winner of the election, while 54 votes were invalid.
Senator Ajimobi secures ticket in Oyo
After two consecutive terms, Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State has clinched the APC ticket for Oyo South Senatorial District.
He defeated Dr. Fola Akinosun by 2,659 to 168 votes, in the primary held yesterday.
He was in the Senate between 2003 and 2007 on the platform of the defunct Alliance for Democracy, AD.
Six disqualified aspirants kick in Ondo
Six disqualified senatorial aspirants in Ondo State, yesterday, called for the resignation of Adams Oshiomole describing him as unfit and unsuitable to lead the party.
The aspirants included Dr Tunji Abayomi, Felder Olatunji, Victor Olabimtan, Odunayo Akinrinsola, Lebi Morayo and Lucky Ayedatiwa. They gave the leadership of the party 24 hours to “reverse this wrongful decision.”
Addressing newsmen in Akure over their disqualification by the party’s NWC and the automatic tickets to the three serving senators, they said the party chairman lacked the “intellectual capacity to lead the party.”
Their spokesperson, Dr Tunji Abayomi, who said automatic ticket was unconstitutional pointed out that Oshiomhole “has failed as the chairman of the party.”
Vanguard gathered that the mainstream of the APC in the state would move their aspirants to another political party to contest the election if the automatic tickets given to the three senators are not reversed.
“What we are asking for is a level playing field for all aspirants, whether direct or indirect, let our aspirants compete with them,” the stakeholder said.
Ekiti APC makes U-turn, adopts direct primary for Senate, Reps primary today
In what could be described as a volte-face, the Ekiti State chapter of the APC, yesterday, jettisoned its earlier option of indirect primary, for direct one to elect its candidates for the State and National Assembly elections in 2019.
The party on Tuesday took a decision to adopt indirect primary contrary to the directive of the NWC, a development that sparked protests, which eventually stalled the election.
A statement by the party’s State Publicity Secretary, Ade Ajayi, yesterday, said the primary has been shifted till today and the party would now adopt direct system and that the primary will be held across the 177 wards in the state.
I’ll reconcile aggrieved APC members in Rivers – Tonye Cole
The Rivers State Governorship candidate of the APC, Tonye Cole, has promised to reconcile members of the party, who are aggrieved following the primaries of the party in the state.
Cole also promised to give priority attention to the environmental degradation confronting the state if elected in 2019 to govern the state, adding that peace and security would be returned in the state.
He said: “We will embark on a reconciliation exercise with members of our APC family, who in the process of electing flag bearers, may have lost out and feel aggrieved by the process. They will jopin in the task of rebuilding Rivers State for the better.”
NWC panel compromised — Ogun APC, declares Akinlade gov candidate
The Ogun State chapter of the party has accused the Muhammad Indabawa-led NWC governorship screening committee of compromising the direct primary in the state.
The state chapter of the APC also declared Adekunle Akinlade winner of the parallel state governorship primary held on Tuesday across the 236 wards of the state.
State Chairman of the party, Chief Derin Adebiyi, while addressing journalists at the party secretariat in Abeokuta, yesterday, said the primary elections were conducted in line with the guidelines of the NWC and monitored by INEC officials.
Adebiyi said Akinlade, the consensus candidate of the Yewa Elders Council, who is also the successor-designate of the state governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, polled 190,987 votes out of 201, 620 valid votes cast across the 236 wards in the state.
According to Adebiyi, Akinlade defeated banker turned politician, Jimi Lawal who polled 5,046 votes; oil mogul, Prince Dapo Abiodun who polled 3,648 votes; immediate past Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Otunba Bimbo Ashiru who polled 898 votes. Others include ex-deputy governor, Senator Adegbenga Kaka 833 votes and Abayomi Hunye with 208 votes
Adebiyi said the primary was conducted after three consecutive postponements by the seven-man NWC panel, adding that they became suspicious of the panel when it said it would be using ballot papers to conduct the primary in the state.
Adebiyi added that the state chapter had waited for the screening committee last Sunday when it was first slated to hold but their telephone lines were switched off.
He said: “When we later got through to them in the evening on Sunday, they promised to arrive on Monday. They arrived on Monday and at the meeting held at the MITROS Suites, Ibara, Abeokuta, the NWC panel told us the primary would hold on Tuesday. The party members were all in their wards waiting for the NWC panel, but they never showed up.
“We are working within the ambit of the Constitution and guidelines of the party. In direct primary, the members are to queue behind the candidate of their choice, but they said they brought ballot papers. Ballot papers to do what? The NWC panel sent to the state is highly compromised.”
Vanguard reliably gathered that the election result sheet released by the state chairman was not signed by the NWC panel.