• Sunday, May 19, 2024
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BusinessDay

Fake membership cards surface in Ondo ahead of APC primaries

3 aspirants petition election appeal committee over Ondo APC primary

…as seven aspirants petition national chairman

By Jacob Akintunde

Ahead of Saturday’s All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship primary election in Ondo State, printing and circulation of fake APC membership cards are allegedly happening in the State, prompting seven leading aspirants to petition Abdullahi Ganduje, the National Chairman of APC.

The petitioners, Jimoh Ibrahim, Olusola Oke, Wale Akinterinwa, Diran Iyantan, Dayo Faduyile, Gbenga Edema and Jimi Odimayo, in a statement jointly signed for which a copy was made available to journalists in Akure, the Ondo State Capital, claimed that several fake membership cards of the party had been secretly printed and distributed to people who were not members of the party.

BusinessDay reports that sixteen aspirants, including Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa, will be vying for the APC governorship ticket at the party primaries slates for this Saturday.

The petition wholly reads, “We, the undersigned, are aspirants from the South Senatorial District of Ondo State who have collected forms to participate in the forthcoming Ondo State gubernatorial primary election slated for April 20, 2024.

“We have noticed some issues of concern regarding the said primary election, which, if not resolved quickly, may hinder the smooth running of the primary and may be detrimental to a free, fair, credible, and acceptable election.

“One of the issues is the revalidation of the membership register to be used for the primary election.

“While we commend the party’s position to revalidate the existing membership register, which is the certified true copies, as certified by INEC, and based on this directive of the party, as aspirants, we have paid over N300 million to the coffers of the party to cover the annual dues of all party members whose names appear on the register.

“Unfortunately, the exercise was shrouded in so much secrecy that many of our party members, especially our numerous supporters, could not have their membership cards revalidated before the committee that came from the headquarters left Ondo State for Abuja.

“We have been inundated with reports that a particular aspirant has gone ahead with massive printing of fake party slips, which he has distributed to many people who are not even our party members.

“The intention of this aspirant is to corrupt the integrity of the membership register on the day of the primary by making the accreditation of party members impossible as non-party members have already been recruited to flood the venues of the primary election that day.

“This massive and pervasive production of the membership cards will certainly precipitate a situation where everyone holding membership cards, notwithstanding that their names are not on the register, will be allowed to vote without accreditation. Voting without accreditation remains illegal and unacceptable.

“Mr. Chairman should note that Section 77(2)(3) of the Electoral Act, 2022, makes it mandatory for all political parties to have a credible membership register, which must be submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and certified by it, not later than 30 days before the Congress.

“To avoid any legal or constitutional conundrum, we advise that the party make accreditation of party members mandatory at the election venue and that every member of the party whose name appears on the membership register already certified by INEC should be allowed to vote once he or she is able to present his or her membership slip for accreditation.

“It is therefore our prayer that the leadership of the party makes available to us the membership register already validly certified by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, as the only lawful register to be used by the party for the conduct of the primary election slated for April 20, 2024. No other register can lawfully be used for the said election.”