The entrance of the National secretariat of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was blocked on Wednesday evening by angry protesters who were also identified as members of a political platform, Kogi Mandate Group seeking explanation from party leaders of the party on why Kogi Governorship primary candidate, Babatunde Irukera was denied the right to contest the party primary.
The group accused the National Working Committee of the party that they deliberately omitted the name of their candidate from the list of cleared aspirants inspite of the decision of the appeals committee set up by the party that he is fit to contest the party primary.
Recall that the screening committee headed by Senator Hope Uzodinma had earlier disqualified Irukera for falsifying of age, absence of academic credentials and necessary documents in his file and nomination form not duly signed.
We learnt that a copy of the appeals committee report has cleared Irukera for the primary after listening to oral submission of the accused and they found no evidence to support the claim of the screening committee.
The National Working Committee of the party upheld the decision of the screening committee which disqualifies Irukera from contesting at the party primary after considering the appeals report on Tuesday night.
However, the group accused the Comrade Adams Oshiomhole led National Working Committee (NWC) of the party of deliberately shutting out Irukera to pave way for Governor Yahaya Bello to emerge unopposed at the primary billed to hold in Lokoja on Thursday.
Spokesperson for the group, Amos Alfa expressed surprise that the party went ahead to disqualify Irukera in spite of the fact that he was cleared by the screening committee of the party.
He said: “We want justice to be done. Irukera was cleared in 2015 by this same party and he contested at the primaries. The sitting governor is aware that only Irukera can unseat him. We have evidence that in the result from screening panel, it was written boldly that he was cleared. We want justice on this issue. The party should not be left in the wrong hands. Let APC do justice to ensure that Babatunde feature in the primaries otherwise what happened in Zamfara state would happen in Kogi state.”
Some of the placards brandished by the protesters had inscriptions like “We say no to impunity in Kogi”, Hope and Oshiomhole! stop sale of kogi Governor ticket to Bello, he can’t win election,” “Do not kill APC in Kogi state, APC should be fair and transparent”, “APC learn from Zamfara mistakes.”
A statement signed by the party’s spokesman, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu had announced that the NWC has cleared nine aspirants to contest the indirect governorship primary comprising Governor Bello, Hadiza Iyoma Ibrahim, Yahaya Odidi Audu, Sani Lulu Abdullahi, Engr. Abubakar Bashir, Engr. Danlami Umar Mohammed, Yakubu Mohammed, Hassan Abdullahi, Ekele Aishat Blessing just as it has shifted the date for the Bayelsa governorship primary from today to Saturday this week.[?]