An aspirant of the All Progressives Congress for the January 28 by-election for Etsako federal constituency of Edo State, Blessing Agbomere, has rejected the result of the party’s primary which produced Johnson Oghuma as the candidate.
Oghuma, who is a former member of the state House of Assembly, had been declared winner of the primary by the Chairman of the party’s electoral panel, Senator Bala Na’Allah.
Na’Allah had said that Oghuma got 334 votes to defeat Agbomere, who polled 75 votes.
But Agbomere accused the panel of manipulating the electoral process, claiming he had an early lead but the composition of the delegates had been altered from about 1,000 delegates to less than 500, allegedly in favour of another aspirant.
“When the process changed, I complained to the chairman (Na’Allah). He did not do anything about it. I complained to the security officials but they did not do anything about it until the protest.
“There is a primary election committee, which came to conduct the election. It was a five-man committee; they (panel members) made that blunder in an attempt to favour a particular candidate.
“By the time they correct that blunder, automatically, the victory comes to me who was leading before the process was compromised.”
He said he had already submitted his appeal to the committee set up to address issues arising from the primary, and urged the party to declare him as the rightful winner.
However, the state Chairman of the APC, Anselm Ojezua, dismissed the allegation.
Ojezua, who spoke to our correspondent on the telephone, described the primary as transparent, adding that the appeal by the aggrieved aspirant lacked merit.
He said, “Yesterday’s (Saturday) primary was transparent, free and it was fair. Strangely enough, in his (Agbomere) written petition, he did not accuse the panel of manipulating the process; he only said that the list it used was short of the requirement.
“I recall that when the issue came up at the venue, I was the one who reminded him that the constitution of our party does not contain guidelines for primaries. It only gives the power to provide guidelines to the National Executive Committee.
“And the NEC, acting through the agency of the National Working Committee, provides guidelines from time to time. So to that extent, his appeal does not have any credibility. It lacks merit.”