By Lateef Ibrahim
People Democratic Party (PDP) in Cross River State has been plunged into a fresh round of crisis as the aspirants in the concluded local government council elections demand a refund of money paid for intent forms and administrative charges.
Eleven aggrieved aspirants who cut across 18 Local government areas in the state have said that they paid for intent forms in 2017 at the cost of N600, 000 each and paid N30, 000 each for Administrative charges.
The aspirants allege that they were neither issued the form nor allowed to take part in the screening and primary process.
The aspirants include: John Orim, John Ojeka, Bassey Effiong Bassey, Irom Bassey Okey, Okoi Okorn Obeten, Bernard Iso, Philip Etim Bassey, Amba Onen Neji, Edem Ironbar, Eyo-Nsa Eyo-ita and Asinya Ekpe Ntan.
John Ojeka, who spoke on behalf of the group, accused the state PDP Chairman, Ntufam Edim Inok of making a selective refund to some aspirants who also bought the intent forms.
Ojeka explained that after the purchase of the form, the election was later suspended by the state government in 2017.
According to the Chairmanship aspirants, when the Cross River State Independent Electoral Commission announced a new timetable for the conduct of the elections in January, they also expressed their readiness to take part in the process, having paid for forms earlier, but were denied the opportunity.
“To our greatest surprise, the party came out with an authentic list of 18 local government Chairmen candidates and we were just shut out completely without any information. Furthermore, the party directed the 18 shortlisted names to proceed to their respective local Government areas for affirmation.
“The screening took place on February 2nd, 2020. And when they got there, they were denied screening for no reason based on the fact that their names were not shortlisted in the purported authentic list. On March 23rd, 2020, we had a reconciliatory meeting with the committee set up by Governor Ben Ayade to iron out all areas of grievance,” he said.
Ojeka said the committee was headed by Reps. Eta Mbora as Chairman, who represents Calabar Municipality/Odukpani Federal Constituency in the National Assembly, Mrs. Uduak Akiba as Secretary, and Rep. Legor Idagbor as Member and Rep. Mike Etaba as a member.
The aggrieved aspirants said during the Local Government Election which later held on May 30th, 2020, they all went out massively and supported the party candidates to victory.
He later said that other aggrieved party members who also paid for the said forms are currently in court challenging the selection process, but the 11 of them decided to toe the line of alternative dispute resolution by using an internal mechanism to settle the matter bearing in mind the supremacy of the party as party faithful.
Reacting to this allegation, the State Chairman of PDP, Inok, said “I want to know the petitioners, tell them to come and collect their money let me see, tell them they are not serious”.