By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
The crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress (APC) over the primary election conducted for the Imo North Senatorial bye-election schedule by INEC for October 31st, yesterday exacerbated as the committee set up by the party to screen the aspirants threatened that nobody will intimidate them into accepting aspirants whom they had disqualified as the standard bearer of the party.
Apparently angered by the decision of the party leadership to accept the return of Hon. Frank Ibezim as the winner of the primary election conducted by Senator Bashiru Ajibola, the APC primary election screening committee for Imo North Senatorial bye-election, led by Lawrence Chuku, stormed the party Secretariat to register their displeasure over the decision of the party to clear all aspirants even after some of them were disqualified by the screening committee.
Briefing journalists at the party headquarters, Lawrence Chuku said “we are the members of the Imo North Senatorial screening committee of the APC, appointed via letters of appointment dated 25” August 2020 and duly inaugurated at the party headquarters on
the 26 of August by the acting National Secretary, H.E Senator John James Akpan- Udoedehe.
“Unfortunately, with utmost dismay, we noticed that our report which cleared 5 aspirants and have six not cleared due to very cogent and verifiable reasons were jettisoned. Both the aspirants cleared and not cleared were allowed to run for the Senatorial primaries, embarrassingly, one of the aspirants not cleared is being touted as having emerged as one of the winners of the said controversial primary election.”
He gave the list of the eleven aspirants screened to include: Sen. Ifeanyi Ararume, Frank Ibezim, Achonu Athanasius Nneji, among others, adding that those cleared were: Sen. Ifeanyi Ararume, among four others, while those disqualified for not meeting the basic requirements were: Hon. Frank Ibezim, among six others.
He said “Section 3(f) of the guidelines for the nomination of candidates stipulates that ONLY aspirants fully cleared by the party shall be eligible to stand election at the party’s primaries.
“Section 3(k) also clearly stated that all aspirants must show knowledge of the party’s manifestos and programmes and must commit themselves to the full implementation of the party’s goals and objectives. Not losing sight of section 3(L) which states that all aspirants are to submit evidence of membership of the party for at least one year except a waiver is given.
“Therefore in compliance with section 11 of same guideline stipulating the roles and responsibilities of the screening committee, we have done our job sincerely, honestly and diligently without fear or favour but we have observed that Mr. Frank lbezim who is purported to be one of the possible flag bearers of our party, was not cleared to contest the Imo North Senatorial primary elections on the following grounds.
“He did not submit any originals of his educational qualification certificates or properly certified true copies for citing. He presented a statutory declaration of age deposed to by one Emmanuel lbezim, who happens to be his elder brother. The statutory age declaration was not signed by the declarant, which rendered the document invalid.”
He said Ibezim submitted another affidavit stating the loss of his not academic qualification certificates which was not signed by the deponent, which he said has also rendered the document invalid. He said said unsigned affidavit did not have a police extract in support, to show that he reported to the law enforcement authority.
In this note, he said as responsible party loyalists, they are committed to ensuring that the party does the right thing by putting the right foot forward to win the Imo North senatorial by-elections which he said shall be keenly contested, adding that they have brought the petition early in the day to the party’s notice as a stitch in time.
He said as party loyalists, they cannot and will not allow anybody or any candidate to intimidate them because they want the best for the party.