BY KENNETH ATAVTI
Less than 24 hours to the All Progressives Congress (APC), primary elections across the country, the party’s appeal panel has disqualified Mr. Sunday Oche and 3 others, from participating in the primaries scheduled for Friday, 27th May, 2022.
So many petitions have been written against 65 aspirants jostling for the party ticket for the House of Representatives.
This was contained in the report of the 3-man appeal panel made up of eminent leaders of the party, dated 20th May 2022, and submitted to the national chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, through the office of the national organizing secretary
According to the 19-page report signed by Chief Chinedu Okonkwo, chairman, Barr. Kate Nnamani, secretary and Hon. Robinson Uwak, member of the appeal panel, a copy of which was obtained by Nigerian pilot, the affected aspirants were disqualified in line with the party’s guidelines and extant laws.
Mr. Oche, who seeks to represent Ado/Okpokwu/Ogbadibo Federal Constituency of Benue State was disqualified due to a pending criminal case against him before the Magistrate Court Bwari, bothering on forgery, perjury and conspiracy.
“Having gone through the petition and in view of the weighty allegations therein and exhibits attached, this Committee made frantic efforts to reach out to the respondent (Mr. Oche Sunday Oche) through numerous phone calls to make himself available before the Committee to clarify the veracity of the said allegations, to no avail”, the report reads in part.
The Committee also said it was able to establish that a criminal trial of Mr. Oche was ongoing at the Magistrate Court, Bwari with suit number CR/23/2022 and seriously frowned at the refusal of the aspirant to disclose it while filing his nomination forms.
The Committee, therefore, resolved, “that Mr. Oche Sunday Oche’s failure to disclose the pending criminal trial against him while filling his nomination form is a fraudulent act and a total failure of an integrity test expected of any leader seeking to lead the party at any level. Worst still, it is an unpardonable breach of the party’s guideline and instructions which is capable of negatively affecting the party’s victory in the forthcoming election.
“That the ongoing criminal trial against Mr. Oche Sunday Oche is one capable of securing him a fourteen-year imprisonment if found guilty and the party cannot be seen to be taking such a costly risk”.
On his part, Hon. (Dr.) Pascal Obi Chigozie, who seeks to represent Ideato North/South Federal Constituency of Imo State, was disqualified on the grounds of anti-party activities.
The Committee said the petitions from the party’s national vice chairman (South East), Dr. Ijeomah Arodiogbu and 2 other members of APC alluded to the fact that the aspirant had earlier presented himself before the screening Committee of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) on the 29th April, 2022.
Another Reps aspirant, Hon. Archibong Bassey Joseph from Cross River State, was said to have been disqualified, after carefully attending to the petition from his brother, Elder Joseph Bassey, alluding that he was the valid owner of the WAEC certificate submitted by the aspirant and that he did not have his express permission to use it.
Hon. Efiong Robinson Edumoh from Akwa Ibom, on the other hand, was disqualified by the appeal panel due to “discrepancy in the identity of the aspirant”.
Edumoh was said to have filled ‘Edumoh, Robinson Effiong’ in the expression of interest and nomination forms, whereas the name appearing on his voter’s card reads ‘Abianga, Robinson Effiong’.
The Committee, while thanking the party leadership for providing the opportunity to serve, also concluded by appealing to members, especially the affected aspirants, “to accept this report as this was done with clear mind and no fear or favour with no intentions of victimizing anybody. Rather, it was done to uphold the value we share in our dear party”.