The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun says that the party will conduct a fresh governorship primary election in Bayelsa State as the exercise held on Tuesday was marred by security flaws.
“The primary has been rescheduled. It had to be called off due to security challenges,” the APC chairman said in Abuja. However, he did not state a fresh date for the election.
This came as Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, chairman of the 7-man electoral committee dismissed the reported emergence of former governor of Bayelsa State, Mr Timipre Sylva, as the party’s governorship candidate for the December 5 election, saying no primaries took place on Tuesday as planned because of alleged disruption of the process by hired thugs.
A parallel primary election had taken place in the absence of Oshiomole where former Bayelsa State Governor Timpre Sylva won with a landslide.
Oshiomole, however, alleged that members of his committee, including himself, were kidnapped and held hostage by thugs allegedly loyal to one of the governorship aspirants a former governor of the state, describing incident as unfortunate.
“We had the state commissioner of Police and the AIG in-charge of the zone to supervise the election, yet the exercise was messed up and that is why I believe that the police were compromised.”
Oshiomhole said his committee had since forwarded a report to the National Secretariat of APC, suggesting new date for the primaries to enable the authentic delegates to be properly accredited, in line with the guidelines of the party as used in Kogi State.
“I was the Returning Officer in that primary and I functioned as the Chairman of the Election Committee. The next person is the Secretary. Neither the Secretary nor myself announced any result and, of course, it is customary that in any election, the winner is issued a Certificate of Return. As far as I know, no such certificate was issued. So if a member of the committee purports to announce any result, that is his own funeral. That does not in any way alter the rules of the party. There is no doubt that there was no election.
“If as a governor, I had to seek the intervention of the Army, and placed under siege, I had to ask the aspirant if I was kidnapped, and if the ransom was that I conducted a primary without accreditation, then the basic requirement for a free and fair election, whether primary or popular, is that those participating must have free access for accreditation and for voting. When these are lacking, you cannot make something out of nothing. The aspirant can do anything that he has chosen to do, but that does not mean it is the due process which the party is committed to. If anybody wanted to do a shady job, they will not approach people like me and others to be part of that exercise. I cannot be used for such fraud. As someone who has fought against electoral fraud in Edo State and one that has been preaching one man, one vote, anybody who knows me well cannot contemplate allowing me to be a part of that exercise,” he added.
Narrating how the exercise was aborted, Oshiomhole claimed that the aspirant imported thugs to the Samson Siasia Stadium, Yenagoa, venue of the primary, and scuttled the exercise.
He also claimed that the aspirant threatened his life and those of other members of the committee. He challenged him to produce his Certificate of Return presented to him by the party if he truly won in a free and fair primary.
“I was appointed along with six others to conduct the primary election in Bayelsa State. The exercise took place on Tuesday, but somehow, thugs took over the venue of the exercise. They prevented the actual delegates from participating and accessing the venue of the exercise. As a result, we could not proceed with the exercise.
“The committee was virtually held hostage, including myself and this exercise was supervised, unfortunately, by one of the aspirants. He said to my face, and the committee that we could not leave the venue of the conference, unless we carry out the exercise without accreditation as prescribed by the National Secretariat. It is important to note that the National Secretariat has long adopted a standard national guideline for the conduct of governorship primaries and these guidelines were used effectively in Kogi State and it produced an outcome which all the aspirants in Kogi gubernatorial elections were quite happy with.
“The key issue in these guidelines, as stated by the party, is that delegates as contained in the list in the custody of the secretariat have to be identified, either through the Permanent Voter’s Card which contains the photo, I.D and other details or the National Identity Card,NIC, or the International Passport. This was to ensure that proper accreditation was done,” Oshiomole explained.