How APC Rigged House Of Reps Primaries In Benue, Aspirant Alleges
Contestant for the Makurdi/Guma federal constituency ticket on the platform of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Franc Utoo, has spoken out about how the party’s leadership conspired to deny him the ticket which he won at the primary election held on Sunday, December 7, 2014.
The election had been previously postponed due to irregularities.
When the votes were counted on Sunday, Mr Utoo led his opponent Terhide Utaan, but by Monday it was a different story.
Utoo gave a summary of the events that transpired.
“When I decided to vie for the House of Representatives seat for Makurdi/Guma, I made adequate consultation with leaders, elders, youth and women of the Federal Constituency across the different divides of tribe, religion and orientation. I was given an overwhelming approval to contest and I became most people’s favourite candidate. I was also the only candidate that rolled out his legislative agenda.
“Fast forward to House of Reps primaries of Sunday, 7 December 2014; we went to the primaries venue at HAF Haven, Makurdi with full hopes knowing that our homework was properly done. We wanted to raise objection to the constitution of the Electoral Committee as both men are clear members of the same ‘cabal’ with our opponent. And for those who know our opponent, it is a truism that he is the candidate of the ever vilified state chairman of APC, having caused lot of terrible damage to the party together. We still went ahead knowing that we got majority of the ward excos within the 21 Council Wards of our Federal Constituency. Instead of calling out the names of the wards in alphabetical order (as in all cases of conventions), the Presiding Officer started with calling out the strong bases of our opponent.
“Our strongest bases were reserved to be last. By the time two of our wards (North Bank ward 1 and Mbalagh ward) were still waiting together with the entirety of the 26 man Makurdi LG exco, the Electoral Committee claimed the ballot papers were exhausted.
“Both contestants were invited, together with their agents in the presence of the SSS, Police and INEC and asked to agree on a unanimous way forward. In order not to disenfranchise the over 75 delegates yet to vote, I suggested the adoption of the same child of necessity that was improvised to conduct the remaining elections for Makurdi South House of Assembly primaries and Buruku Federal Constituency elections. Plain papers were cut and signed at the back by both agents after the candidates had unanimously agreed so they can serve as Ballot papers. Elections were peacefully conducted, counting done and I emerged victorious as predicted by bookmakers. Election result was announced and approved by INEC, SSS and Police who all served as Observers.
“All of a sudden, there was no result sheet to record the result. The committee claimed they weren’t given any! We decided to escort the committee to the state secretariat of APC to get the results properly filed and certificate of returns awarded to us. My supporters and I slept on the seats at the State Secretariat just to keep watch over the result in possession of the Presiding Officer while we waited for the proper thing to be done in the morning.
“In the morning we got news of high level scheming and connivance of the party hierarchy, our opponent, Presiding Officer and the Supervising Committee members from Abuja. After the plot, members of the Supervising Committee from Abuja walked into the Secretariat at around 2pm and invited both candidates. I was told in point blank language that the votes cast on the signed papers won’t be considered! Meaning the 26 exco members from each of the two wards and the 26 Makurdi LG exco are automatically disenfranchised! This was done knowing that I had almost 60 votes out of the about 75 votes cast. The committee did not mind the precedence set in the Makurdi South Assembly elections and Buruku Fed Constituency.
“INEC, SSS and Police that monitored the elections were refused invitation to present their report. Result sheets were immediately brought out and they recorded victory for our opponent. This is how I came face to face with impunity! And because our opponent, Mr. Utaan Terhide Conrad, knew he didn’t win the election from the depth of his heart, he couldn’t afford to smile including his 3 supporters present. The sober mood betrays their emotions. But we are sure that things can’t continue like this.
“I’m still consulting to consider available and proper options. So help me God!”
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