Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
Hundreds of people today grounded activities at the national headquarters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to protest the disqualification of an aspirant, Babatunde Irukera, ahead of Kogi State governorship party primary.
The protesters brandished placards bearing various inscriptions like “We say no to impunity in Kogi”, “Hope and Oshiomhole! stop sale of Kogi governorship ticket to Bello, he can’t win election”, “Do not kill APC in Kogi State”, “APC should be fair and transparent” and “APC, learn from Zamfara mistakes,” among others.
Addressing newsmen during the protest, a group under the aegis of the Kogi Mandate Group (KMG) accused the Comrade Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC) of deliberately shutting out Irukera to pave way for Governor Yahaya Bello to emerge unopposed at the primary billed to hold in Lokoja the Kogi State capital.
They claimed that although the screening committee led by Hope Uzodimma disqualified him, the Appeal Committee cleared him to contest the primary, wondering while the NWC should uphold his disqualification by the screening committee after the Appeal Committee’s clean bill of health.
Spokesperson for the group, Amos Alfa, expressed shock that the party went ahead to disqualify Irukera in spite the fact that he was cleared by the screening committee of the party.
“We want justice to be done. Irukera was cleared in 2015 by this same party and he contested at the primaries. The sitting governor is aware that only Irukera can unseat him. We have evidence that in the result from the screening panel, it was written boldly that he was cleared.
“We want justice on this issue. The party should not be left in the wrong hands. Let APC do justice to ensure that Babatunde features in the primaries otherwise what happened in Zamfara State would happen in Kogi State.”
Also disqualified by the party was the former Chief of Naval Staff, Usman Oyibe Jibrin (rtd), Mustapha Mona Audu, Muhammed Abubakar Unukwu Audu, Rukkaya Ibrahim, Gen. Patrick Adenu Akpa and Mohammed Seidu Onaili,
Nevertheless, the party cleared nine aspirants to contest the indirect governorship primary. The successful candidates include Governor Bello, Hadiza Iyoma Ibrahim, Yahaya Odidi Audu, Sani Lulu Abdullahi, Engr. Abubakar Bashir, Engr. Danlami Umar Mohammed, Yakubu Mohammed, Hassan Abdullahi and Ekele Aishat Blessing.
APC also shifted the date for the Bayelsa governorship primary from today to Saturday this week.
The party expressed its resolve to adopt the direct mode of primary for the Bayelsa primary in line with the request by the state chapter of the party.