By Leke Salaudeen
THE Chairman of the committee mandated by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to conduct the primary for the Imo North senatorial by-election, Senator Ajibola Basiru has described the shadow election which produced Mr. Ibezim Frank as the party’s flag bearer as free, fair and without rancour.
Basiru who gave an account of what transpired during the primary in an interview with The Nation said the conduct of the exercise met all the criteria stipulated by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for such contests.
These, he said, includes being monitored by the electoral umpire, the police and other security agencies. He added that the committee did not receive any adverse report of violent incidents.
Basiru said: “Although we had a seven-man committee, by Thursday afternoon (September 3, 2020) the day of the primary, I didn’t set my eyes on three members of the committee. The rule of the committee is that it operates by a simple majority. I am the Chairman and I have a secretary and two other members with me, which help us to form a quorum to be able to do our work.
“The work started with the seven members until about noon on that Thursday after the election was almost completed in all the 64 wards, where the election was held. At the end of the exercise, the result was announced publicly in the presence of INEC and police at Okigwe, the senatorial headquarters of Imo North Senatorial District. Everything was done in the public glare. We promptly submitted our result to INEC.
“At the end of the day, the aspirant that got the highest votes is Frank Ibezim and he is the person declared as the winner in my capacity as the chairman of the election committee and his name has been submitted to the Organising Secretary of our party.”
Basiru added that the committee had also sent a copy of its report to the election appeal committee, to empower it to handle any appeal emanating from the exercise. He said the committee also submitted the report to INEC before it left Imo.
He said: “The local government collated result forms were received from the six local government collation officers, by the committee’s secretary. The results were duly tabulated and collated in the collation of result sheet for the senatorial district. The collated result as summed is as follow: Ifeanyi Ararume scored 2,708 votes; Mathew Omegara 2,826 votes; Achonu Attan 1,185; Uchendu Mark Chijoke 1,438; Ibezim Frank 13,637; Chidinma Uwajumogu 1,051;Uche Uba 49; Eze Okoro 54; Bright Nwachukwu 67; Onuoha Chikukem 1,456; and Ihim Acho 824.”
The final report, he said, was signed by four members that witnessed the entire exercise. They are: Basiru, Chief Samuel Ogbuku, Usman Bello Kumo and Senator Abubakar Gada. He added that the remaining three members (Mohammed Shaba Salihu Aloma, Prince Ifedi Godfrey Ejim and Umar Gana Nguma) withheld their signatures.
The police also authenticated the primary conducted by the Basiru-led committee. The report by the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Admin) Kenneth Akubue for Commissioner of Police, Imo State Command, states: “The primary election was conducted in different wards across Imo North Senatorial District on September 3, 2020, and it was hitch-free. Adequate police security was provided in the entire senatorial district.
“There was no report of violence in any part of the district, and the election held peacefully. The final results of the election at the ward and local government area levels were finally collated and announced at the Okigwe Local Government Headquarters, Okigwe by the APC Primary Election Committee Chairman, Sen. Ajibola Basiru in the presence of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) members.
“Frank Ibezim was announced as the person with the highest number of votes and was declared the winner of the primary in Okigwe Local Government Secretariat by the Chairman of APC Primary Elections Committee Chairman Sen. Ajibola Basiru.
“However, the Chairman of the APC Primary Elections committee Sen. Ajibola Bashiru alleged in a petition submitted to the office of the Commissioner of Police, Imo State that one Mr. Umar Gana Njuma, a member of the Imo North APC Primary Elections Committee arrogated the chairmanship of the committee to himself and declared a forged result which he signed by himself as the chairman of the committee in connivance with other nefarious players, one of them parading himself as the Secretary of the Committee. The matter has been referred to the state Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) for a thorough and exhaustive investigation and report.”
Meanwhile, the APC Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Mr Yekini Nabena has declared that there was no parallel congress in Imo North. He said the Senator Basiru-led primary election committee for the by-election is the duly appointed and remains the legitimate panel empowered by the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led APC Caretaker/Extra Ordinary National Convention Planning Committee to conduct the exercise.