Eight House of Representatives aspirants for Kabba/Bunu/Ijumu of Kogi state on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have protested the non-conduct of primary election in the area.
The aspirants, who were accompanied by hundreds of their supporters to the PDP campaign office in Abuja on Wednesday, alleged that there was a plan to impose the incumbent representative, Tajudeen Yusuf on the party ‘against the wish of the delegates’.
Addressing journalists in Abuja, the PDP chairman in Ijumu local government, Emmanuel Olukade, accused Honourable Yusuf of a “sinister plot” to conduct the primary “with only seven delegates” loyal to him.
Yusuf was one of the senatorial aspirants that reportedly stepped down for the Kogi West Senator, Dino Melaye, in the PDP’s senatorial primaries in the same constituency.
Olukade alleged that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officers in the local government also confirmed that there was no primary election conducted for the seat by the PDP.
“Nine aspirants were screened, cleared and eligible to participate in the primary election on the 3rd day of October, 2018,” Olukade said.
“Aspirants and delegates converged at Prestige Hotel, Kabba; the designated Venue for the election on the said date and we waited sixteen hours from but did not see party officials assigned to conduct the exercise and no justifiable reason was communicated for their absence and inability to conduct the primary election.
“The Delegates and aspirants then dispersed after information was received that the primary election had been shifted to 7am the following day for security considerations in view of the time to avoid apprehension.”
Olukade went on to claim that the party officials then tried to hold the election in the wee hours of the next day, when the other aspirants were absent.
“At about 1.30am, news filtered out that party officials led by Bode Ogunmola, Kogi State PDP Publicity Secretary were at the venue conducting accreditation of delegates,
“Only 7 out of 337 delegates were on ground at the time other aspirants arrived the venue with delegates they were able to contact. This attempted electoral heist was rebuffed with protests and when (Tijani) Yusuf realized the ploy was not going to fly, the thugs that came with him started sporadic shooting to ensure the primary election did not hold. This forced the officials to abscond on the premise of insecurity and alleged threats to their lives.
“The incident was reported at Kabba Divisional Police Headquarters where it was confirmed that the Police and other security agencies were not invited to provide security coverage for the event,” he claimed.
Olukade also urged the national leadership of the party to immediately conduct a free, fair, transparent and credible primary election for the constituency to enable a candidate emerge that will truly reflect the wishes and aspirations of majority of delegates.
He also called for the reconstitution of a new election committee composed of persons of impeccable character to conduct the primary election during the day.
However, it remains to be seen if a primary election would still be conducted, as the deadline set for the conduct of primaries and submission of names to INEC has since lapsed.