Multiple court cases fuelled by ethnic bigotry against the selection of Chief Samuel Ortom as the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Benue State may switch the party’s electoral victory in the recent general elections to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) if urgent steps are not taken by party leaders.
This is the outcome of a meeting held by some APC leaders in Abuja during the week to appraise the performance of the party in the state and review the strength of ongoing court cases against the Governor-elect, Samuel Ortom.
According to a prominent figure from the state, the meeting was called “to review the decision by the PDP to challenge the election of Chief Ortom on the ground that the APC did not have any candidate as at the time the governorship election was held on April 11 in the state and this is due to the multiple court cases filed by some other APC governorship aspirants led by Hon. Emmanuel Jime who is strongly laying claim to the party’s ticket having been adopted by four other aspirants and party leaders as consensus candidate before Ortom’s name was submitted to INEC.”
It was gathered that because of the dispute over who the authentic candidate of APC is and the court case instituted by Hon Jime, Senator JKN Waku, and Prof Steve Ugbah at the Federal High Court, Abuja in suit number FHC/ABJ/ CS/1057/14, the PDP had last week gone to the Benue governorship election petition tribunal in Makurdi to abort the inauguration of Ortom on May 29.
The PDP through its governorship candidate, Hon. Terhemen Tarzoor in its petition number EPT/BEN/GOV/01/26 is asking that it be declared winner of the guber poll with a total of 313,878 votes. The request is based on their claim that though the APC scored the highest number of votes, 422,932, it did not have an authentic candidate for the election.
Faced with the danger of losing the party’s electoral victory to the PDP, one of the APC leaders early in the week wrote a letter to the National leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu intimating him of the legal moves that could rob the party of the Benue governorship seat if urgent interventions are not made.
The letter written by Mr. Tor Gowon Yaro urged Tinubu to rally other party leaders to halt the anticipated imminent unpleasant judicial pronouncement that will embarrass the party.
In his words: “Kindly indulge me, Your Excellency, to draw your attention to the dire situation our great party has been plunged into in Benue State due to the illegal selection of our governorship candidate. As I write, some aggrieved governorship aspirants are pressing on in court in suits filed against the party, while the PDP has equally filed a different suit to take advantage of this crisis and claim that the APC had no candidate in the April 11, 2015 governorship election in the state. Both suits, no doubt, portend great danger for the electoral success recorded by the APC and the image of our party.
“Having seen this ahead, you will recall Asiwaju that early in January 2015, I drew your attention to the emerging crisis in Benue APC over the selection of our governorship candidate. As a result, you had called for a meeting of all governorship aspirants and some stakeholders involved in the dispute, a parley which held at the Lagos House, Abuja on the 11th January, 2015.
At the meeting held under your able chairmanship with the party’s National Chairman, Chief John Oyegun as well as other prominent leaders of the party in attendance, the following resolutions were proposed, debated and voted upon to adopt a consensus and signed by all the governorship aspirants, with myself as a facilitator:
That Rt. Hon. Emmanuel Jime be and is hereby adopted as the APC consensus gubernatorial candidate for the 2015 gubernatorial election in Benue State.
That the APC National Secretariat be and is hereby put on notice and informed of this consensus arrangement.
That the APC National secretariat may wish to forward the name of Rt. Hon. Emmanuel Jime to INEC as the gubernatorial candidate for the 2015 gubernatorial election in Benue State.
That these resolutions be forwarded to the APC National secretariat and INEC for the necessary action.
“Four clear months after this agreement was reached, it is disheartening to note that these resolutions are yet to be implemented and in my opinion, based on critical legal opinions sought, this development constitutes a grave risk to our party’s chances in Benue State, notwithstanding a favourable outcome of the gubernatorial election.”
While drawing the party leader’s attention to what may likely be the outcome of the ongoing court cases, Yaro said: “If party leaders decide to close their eyes to the ugly development in Benue, the consequences will be too expensive and painful for all to bear after a sweet success at the polls.
No court will close its eyes to the overwhelming evidence establishing the fact that no gubernatorial primary election held in Benue state as stipulated in Section 87 (1), (2), (3) and 4 (b) 1&11 of the Amended Electoral Act 2011. A protest letter dated December 12, 2014, addressed to the National Chairman, HE John Oyegun and endorsed by four out of the five APC governorship aspirants in Benue State, namely; Messrs Emmanuel Jime, Mike Iordye, Joseph Waku and Steve Ugbah attests to this. In addition to this, a report by the Babade Olukolade-led Electoral Committee on the Monitoring of the APC Gubernatorial Primary in Benue State held on the 5th December, 2014 at the IBB Square, Makurdi further confirms this.”
He added: “Further silence by National leaders of the party on this brazen robbery on internal democracy will not only rubbish the gains made so far by the party but will equally dent the integrity of the incoming Muhammadu Buhari administration and worse still, sow a seed of discord similar to the one that ultimately led to the downfall of the ruling PDP at the state and federal levels.”
On the way out of the crisis, he advised: “The only solution I can proffer to this crisis is to revert to the resolution adopted by all the five bona fide APC governorship aspirants at the meeting held at Lagos House, Abuja on January 11, 2015. This will save the party of any painful and embarrassing judicial pronouncement and ultimately heal all wounds and entrench unity among party members as well as leaders in Benue state.”
“I am, therefore, as a very concerned member of our great party and stakeholder in Benue State, calling on you and the leadership of the party, to urgently act so as to guard against an irreparable occurrence that may embarrass our great party in Benue State”, the APC chieftain added.