Only 24,000 accredited members voted in Edo APC guber primaries- Sen. Okpebholo

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By Lanre Oloyede

One of the candidates in last Saturday’s governorship primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Monday Okpebholo, has revealed that contrary to claims by Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State, who claimed that Dennis Idahosa won the contest by 40,000 votes, only 24,000 members of the party were accredited to vote during the exercise.

This is even as the senator has written to the Appeal Committee of the ruling party to issue him a certificate of return, having emerged winner in the contest, with over 12,000, out of the 24,000 accredited voters.

The Edo Central lawmaker in the Senate, in the letter addressed to the Appeal panel, explained how the Elections Committee constituted by the National Working Committee (NWC) of APC, led by the Chief State Electoral Officer/Returning Officer, Dr Stanley Ugboaja, successfully conducted the polls, where 12 aspirants competed.

He said the results announced by Governor Uzodimma were not a true reflection of what happened, as confirmed by the returning officer.

The senator, while appealing to the Committee, said having satisfied the conditions spelt out, he should be duly recognised as the governorship candidate of the APC in Edo State.

He noted: “My humble appeal to your respected Committee is to look at the facts that I have presented and affirm them as cogent, and verifiable, apply the relevant provisions of the law guiding our primary elections and uphold the result collated, signed and announced by the, and proceed with the official process by issuing me the Certificate of Declaration as the Winner of the 2024 Edo State Gubernatorial Primary Election.

“I have implicit confidence in the integrity of your committee to uphold the rule of law, fairness, equity, justice and regards to due process of the law, which are the hallmarks of democratic governance driven by internal party democracy.”

He added that “the final tally of the result as duly declared by the State Chief Electoral Officer/Returning Officer showed that I scored 12,145 (Twelve Thousand One Hundred and Forty Five) votes to defeat my closest opponent, Honourable Dennis Idahosa, who scored 5,536 (Five Thousand Five Hundred and Thirty Six) votes. The result as handed over to me by Dr. Stanley Ugboaja the Chief Electoral Officer/Returning Officer duly appointed by the party is hereto attached.

“Despite the free, fair and credible process which preceded my being declared the winner of the primary election, information has reached me that Senator Hope Uzodinma, the Chairman of the Electoral Committee for the primary election who was not mandated to function as the Chief Electoral Officer/Returning Officer for the election, has declared Honourable Dennis Idahosa as the winner of the election claiming to be acting on the fictitious result received from one Mr. Charity Amayanvbo, a known political associate of my defeated opponent.

“Mr Amayanvbo is not a party official and was never appointed to collate result on behalf of the party. Rather, the party’s collation officials for the election are well known and published in a release signed by the party’s National Organising Secretary, Sulaiman Mohammad Argungu.

A quick look at the fictitious result declared by Governor Uzodinma will demonstrate how untenable the declaration is. For instance, out of the about 73,000 (Seventy Three Thousand) registered party members, about 24,000 (Twenty Four Thousand) were accredited to vote. Yet, Governor Uzodinma declared that Honourable Idahosa scored 40,000 (Forty Thousand) votes!

“It is most unfortunate that HE. Hope Uzodinma failed woefully to work within reasons and rationality and consequently exposed our great party to ridicule and opprobrium by releasing fictitious figures in an election that he failed, refused and neglected to even visit the designated collation centre throughout the exercise.

“Therefore, the purported result he announced was neither a product nor consequentiality whatsoever, of Edo State Governorship Primary Election that held in Edo State, on 17th February 2023, for which the National Working Committee had constituted an Election Committee led by Dr. Ugboaja as State Chief Returning Officer with 18 LGA Election Returning Officers who performed a most credible assignment for which I and the majority of our party members in Edo State are eternally grateful.

“It is noteworthy that prior to my being declared the winner of the primary election, my defeated opponent, Honourable Idahosa, had tried to disrupt the peaceful collation of the result through his sponsored thugs who violently invaded the Collation Centre and attacked the officials of the party, INEC officials, and members of the press covering the collation process.

“Thankfully, the State Police Command led by the Commissioner of Police promptly intervened to repel the violent attack. This enabled the collation process to continue until the final tally and declaration of the result with me announced as the winner.”