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Court sacks Kogi APC lawmaker, declares PDP candidate winner

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A Federal High Court in Abuja has sacked a lawmaker representing Ibaji constituency in the Kogi State House of Assembly, Atule Egbunu.

Egbunu who was declared winner of a bye-election on account of his 8,515 votes was removed as a lawmaker on the ground that he was unlawfully nominated by the All Progressive Congress (APC).

Justice Inyang Ekwo, while delivering judgment in a suit instituted by an APC chieftain, Joseph Enemona against the APC and four others, declared Daniel Enefola of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the lawmaker for Ibaji constituency, having come second with 4,564 votes in the December 5, 2020 state election.

Enemona, a state House of Assembly aspirant, on the platform of the APC had dragged the party before the Federal High Court, challenging the legality of the September 3, 2020 primary election claimed to have been conducted by his party.

He said the party unlawfully excluded six other aspirants from the primary election and did not allow delegates to vote at the poll.

The plaintiff further asserted that while the law stipulated that the primary election be conducted at the party secretariat in Onyedega, the APC officials allegedly conducted a purported primary election in a mall.

He further contended that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was not given 21 days notice before the purported primary election as required by Section 85 of Electoral Act, 2010.

He also stated that while the APC guidelines stipulated direct primary election, the APC officials used indirect system to pick the purported candidate.

He therefore demanded that the nomination of Egbunu be voided and another primary election be conducted.

However, Justice Ekwo, after reviewing submissions by parties in the matter, agreed that the APC did not conduct a primary election known to law.

The judge held that while seven aspirants were to participate in the primary election, the party unlawfully maneuvered the system and made the participation for a single candidate.

The court also held that the APC went against the law by conducting the purported primary election outside the party secretariat as required by law.

The Court also faulted the purported substitution done between Matthew Oguche and Atule Egbunu on the ground that Oguche was not one of the legitimate aspirants before the election.

Justice Ekwo, therefore, declared the purported APC primary election as illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional, null and void and subsequently sent it aside.

Justice Ekwo said that since the time for primary and nomination of candidates had lapsed, the candidate of the party which came second in the December 5, 2020 bye-election should be inaugurated as the lawmaker for Ibaji constituency.

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Why northern governors opposed Jonathan’s second term bid – Babangida Aliyu

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Former governor of Niger State, Dr Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, has said northern governors rose against former President Goodluck Jonathan’s second term bid in 2015 because of the perceived threat of his victory to the North.

Aliyu said in Minna on Friday that the northern governors felt at the time that their part of the country stood in a disadvantaged position and would be shortchanged should Jonathan win a re-election.

He claimed that Jonathan had earlier reached an agreement with the north to complete what was left of the tenure of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua and then run for only one term.

He said the ex-president’s insistence on going for another term in 2015 was against the agreement he had with the northern governors.

“Following the sudden passage of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua on May 5, 2010, the leadership of the then governing Peoples Democratic Party along with the state governors under the flagship of the party had series of meetings on the presidency and the future of our great party,” he said.

The ex-governor also said, “All the governors in the North under the PDP supported the then Vice President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to complete the remaining years of Yar’Adua’s tenure and to contest the next presidential election as a sole candidate of our great party.

“However, midway, President Goodluck Jonathan insisted to run for the office in 2015 against the grain of our earlier agreement.

“Since this was against the grain of our earlier agreement in the party, and which we the governors in the north felt the North would have been shortchanged if Jonathan had succeeded, we rose stoutly to insist on the agreement we all had.

“On that premise, we opposed Jonathan. But all along, Goodluck Jonathan had enjoyed every support from the governors in the north and the entire region.”

The former governor said it was wrong for anyone to say that he opposed Goodluck Jonathan.

He added that as the chairman of the Northern Governors Forum then, it was his responsibility to tell the people about the stand of the governors.

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Makinde’s candidate, Arapaja, emerges PDP South-West chairman

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Former Oyo State Deputy Governor, Taofeek Arapaja, has been declared the South-West chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

He was pronounced winner of the hotly contested poll by chairman of the region’s congress and Benue Deputy Governor, Benson Abounu.

Arapaja, backed by Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde, polled 343 votes to defeat Dr Eddy Olafeso, who scored 330.

Olafeso is of the camp of former Ekiti Governor Ago Fayose.

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743 PDP delegates to vote in today’s South-West congress

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National Working Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party has approved 743 delegates to elect the party’s South-West zonal leaders at region’s conference holding in Oshogbo, Osun State today (Monday).

Already, the NWC has also released the list of members of the Election Committee and the Election Appeal Committee.

A statement containing the delegates’ list signed by the National Organising Secretary of the party, Col Austin Akobundu (retd), showed that Oyo State has a total of 171 delegates, while Ogun State has 114; Osun State, 130; Ekiti State, 115; and Lagos State, 101.

Akobundu named the Benue State governor, Dr Samuel Ortom, as chairman of the election committee, while Senator Sandy Onoh, Ogun Otemabore and Ireruoke Edward will serve as members. Senator Samuel Anyanwu will serve as secretary.

The party also appointed an election appeal committee headed by Chief Okey Ezenwa who will serve as chairman, Mr. Roland Najomoh, secretary, while Clement Okaredir will serve as a member.

Due to the supremacy battle between Oyo State Governor, Mr Seyi Makinde, and a former governor of Ekiti State, Mr Ayo Fayose, the venue for the election was changed from Ibadan to Osogbo to ensure fairness and avoid giving any advantage to either of the two leaders of the party in the region.

While Makinde is said to be sponsoring Mr Taofeek Arapaja, a former deputy governor of Oyo State, Fayose is said to be backing Mr Eddy Olafeso, a former governorship aspirant in Ondo State and the immediate past chairman of the party in the zone.

The feud between Makinde and Fayose was responsible for the delay in the conduct of the party’s congress in the South-West zone.

The NWC had intervened severally to ensure a consensus candidate for the chairmanship position to no avail.

Already, Arapaja and Olafeso have been cleared to contest the party’s top post in the region.

Also cleared are Mr Rahman Olokaniron and Mr Jenvo Bunni for the position of zonal secretary.

For the office of zonal treasurer, those cleared are Mr Ogunje Samson and Mr Ojo Michael, while the candidates for the zonal organising secretary are Mr Amuwa Adegbenro and Mr Faisu Adewele.

Those contesting for zonal publicity secretary are Mr Olusanya Adefarari and Mr. Fadaka Ayodele, while Mr Adewoyin Babatunde and Mr Philip Okubode were cleared to contest for the position of zonal financial secretary.

Babatunde Samuel and Muniru Kukouye were cleared to contest for the office of zonal legal adviser, while those cleared for the zonal auditor are Dominic Adegbola, Balogun Ayuba and Adeolu Adewunmi.

For the office of zonal woman leader, Ms Modinat Adedibu and Ms Abimbola Balogun were cleared.

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