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Sunday, 18 February 2024 08:48

Confusion as APC primary produces two candidates

THERE was confusion in the camp of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State on Saturday as two winners emerged from the governorship primary held by the party across the 192 wards in the state.

Sunday Tribune gathered that prior to the primary held to produce the party’s standard-bearer for the September 21, 2024 governorship election in the state, there had been a palpable tension within the party following allegations and counter allegations that the immediate past governor of the state and former National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshimhole, was bent on imposing a candidate on the party.

The tension was said to have culminated in the last-minute withdrawal of two frontline aspirants, Ehizuwa Johnson Agbonayinma, and Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, from the governorship race.

But the tension became heightened on Saturday as two candidates: Honourable Dennis Idahosa and Senator Monday Okpebholo emerged as parallel winners from the election.

While the Electoral Committee Chairman and Imo State governor, Hope Uzodimma, declared Idahosa as the winner of the primary election, Dr Stanley Ugbuaja, the state Returning Officer announced Senator Monday Okpebholo as the party candidate.

Announcing the results earlier at Protea Hotel in Benin, Governor Uzodimma said that Idahosa pulled a total of 4,483 votes to defeat his other aspirants.

He gave the breakdown of the results as follows: Dr Blessing Agbomere (50 votes), General Charles Airhiavbere (162 votes), Colonel David Imuse (400 votes), and Senator Monday Okpebholo (200 votes).

Others are Dr Ernest Afolabi Umakhihe (02 votes), Mr Gideon Ikhine (700 votes), Honourable Clem Agba (100 votes), and Mr Lucky Imasuen (02 votes).

According to Uzodimma, the party direct primary election was free, fair and credible, adding that Honourable Dennis Idahosa was declared as winner having scored the highest lawful votes cast.

However, in a dramatic twist, Ugboaje, who alleged that he was brutalised by thugs suspected to have been brought to the collation center by a certain aspirant, announced Okpebholo as winner of the primary at the residence of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu.

He said Okpebholo scored 12,145 votes, while Idahosa scored 5,536 votes to emerge second.

“I hereby certified that Monday Okpebholo, having scored the highest votes, is declared winner and duly returned as APC candidate for the election,” Ugboaje said

Earlier, hoodlums suspected to be thugs stormed the result collation centre situated at Lushville Hotel and Suite and disrupted the process.

The hoodlums manhandled several journalists, including NTA cameraman, and Arise Television reporters, just as they also scattered their equipment.

Reacting to the election, one of the candidates, Honourable Agba, however, condemned the result, saying he won the exercise based on the authentic turnout of party members.

In a statement he issued shortly after the poll, Agba said: “To my good people of Edo State and esteemed members of our great party, the All Progressives Congress, I want to thank you for your loyalty and support for my candidature.

“Unfortunately, what we have all witnessed in the APC party primaries in Edo State on Saturday falls below the minimum standard of democratic elections that is universally acceptable.

“I believe strongly that thousands of loyal party members were disenfranchised. Based on the authentic turnout, we clinched victory. The result so far announced is a ridicule and undermines the principles of democracy and fair play. The votes of the people did not count, the processes of election were compromised and the strength and unity of our party were greatly undermined.

“While I remain a loyal party member, I will not be part of a process that robs the mass of our loyal party members of their inalienable right to vote. What has taken place in Edo State negates all that even our political leaders have taught us over the years about democracy, the will of the people, one man, one vote and justice and fair play.

“We must come together to challenge this great injustice and restore the integrity and strength of our great party. Such Impunity that the people have been subjected to should have no place in our great party. We will proceed speedily within the guidelines laid down by our party to seek for justice,” he stated.

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