Godwin Tsa, Abuja and Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Two aspirants of Benue North East senatorial district, Barnabas Gemade and Joseph Akaagerger, are currently at daggers-drawn over a yet-to-be announced result of the primary election, which held last Saturday.
Akaagerger, who led some aggrieved aspirants of the party to address newsmen at the NUJ House on Monday, called for immediate cancellation of the national and state assembly primary election of the party in Benue State over alleged irregularities, and sharp practises perpetrated by Gemade’s group.
This was even as Gemade has described Akaagerger as a liar and a loud trouble maker, who was hired by his political opponents to denigrate his personality.
Akaagerger, at the adpress conference, alleged criminal manipulation of the election result in all 277 wards in the state.
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Senator Akaagerger, who contested the primary with Gemade, on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), alleged that parallel executives of the party were created in four local government areas, without following the party’s constitution.
He also claimed that all the returning officers posted to the seven local government areas in Benue North East senatorial district, including Katsina Ala, Kwande, Konshisha, Vandeikya, Ukum, Logo and Ushongo consisting of 84 wards, all left to Gemade’s house in Gboko, after election, and handed over some result sheets to him.
“Election results are possibly coming out from that house. In Benue North-West, there were some local government areas where elections never held, but results were recorded in favour of candidates loyal to Gemade.
Consequently, we pray for immediate cancellation of the purported primary conducted on September 29, 2018 because they were a charade and a sham.
“The national secretariat should devise a credible means to conduct fresh primary that would win the confidence of all aspirants and party supporters,’” he added. In a swift reaction yesterday, Gemade maintained that Akaagerger was only ranting and insisted that the primary was conducted freely and fairly in five out of the seven local government areas that make up the senatorial district.
“Akaagerger is so desperate and does not want to accept defeat. I have defeated him severally in the past. So, why must he say I must behave crookedly before I can win election? Akaagerger has been hired by my political opponents against me, and I will not hesitate to sue anyone who denigrates my personality.
“The elections are not yet announced, but, I know they are conclusive already. We are only waiting for the electoral panel to announce the result, and I know I will win. He knows he is a loser in the elections, that is why he has run to the press.”
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Regardless, an SDP governorship aspirant, Innocent Daa’gba, has called for the nullification and setting aside of the party’s primary which produced Hingah Biem as its governorship candidate.
Daa’gba, who alleged disenfranchisement of candidates and eligible voters during the conduct of the party’s governorship primary, said the entire exercise was a nullity .
In a petition to the chairman of the party’s electoral appeal panel in the state, Daa’gba further called for a fresh governorship primary within 48 hours, under the direct control and supervision of the national officials of the party.
He also demanded that the list of the party’s electoral/returning officers slated for the conduct of a fresh governorship primaries for Benue State be released to aspirants.
Alternatively, he called on the party’s leadership to take a decision that would guarantee a free and fair positioning of the party for electoral victory in 2019 in Benue State.
In the October 2 petition, made available to Daily Sun, he chronicled events that led to disenfranchisement of aspirants and eligible voters, to include alleged diversion of electoral materials, which he claimed, were taken to unknown destination; whereas results were prepared and purportedly returned in favour of a preferred candidate of the state officials of the party.
He claimed that the purported result of the governorship primary was fraudulently procured in favour of the preferred candidate, and not as a result of proper exercise of voting.
He said the effect of the alleged fraudulent diversion of materials, “was felt by me, my supporters and agents, who had gathered at the various local government/ward centers as early as 7:00am without sighting the electoral officers and materials.
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“I promptly drew the attention of the committee chairman, Dr. Salisu, my colleagues on the team; Joseph Abu and David Umah, to these developments and they promised to intervene.
“I later came to discover, however, that they never went out into these places to physically confirm or dispute my complaints, and this was the general scenario across the entire 23 local government areas of the state.”