Imo APC By-Election: Confusion As 7-Man Panel Splits Into Rivals

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Chairman of 7-man Panel, Senator Bashir Ajibola, representing Osun Central, flanked by the Secretary Samuel Ogbuku.

The confusion in Imo State chapter of the All Progressive Congress (APC) seem to have deepened after the 7-man Committee mandated to conduct Imo North Senatorial by-election returned in factions and claiming victories for two different candidates.

The two factions returned last Friday night at the APC National Secretariat in Abuja and submitted two separate result sheets declaring Honorable Frank Ibezim and Senator Ifeanyi Araraume as winners of the Primaries.

Senator Basiru Ajibola, Senator representing Osun central who happens to be the Chairman of the Committee submitted a result sheet declaring Hon. Frank Ibezim as winner of the election while Alhaji Umar Gana on his own side also submitted another result which has Senator Ifeanyi Araraume as the authentic winner and APC flag-bearer for the forth coming Imo North Senatorial Election.

Speaking to Newsmen on Friday at the APC National Secretariat in Abuja yesterday, Senator Basiru flanked by the Secretary of the 7-man panel Samuel Ogbuku alleged that in execution of the task assigned to them by Gov. Mai Mala Buni’s led National Caretaker Committee to conduct Imo North Senatorial Primaries, that three members of the panel absconded and vacated their hotel rooms without any reason for such actions and therefore did not participate in the exercise.

Ajibola claimed that the remaining four members out of the seven-man panel (himself inclusive), took their time to carefully conduct the election in all the 64 wards in the absence of the three members which he claimed disappeared from their hotel room, and all efforts to ascertain their whereabouts proved abortive, he claimed.

In his words, Ajibola said, “The work started with the 7 members until about noon on Thursday after the election was almost completed in all the 64 wards where the election held. The report we presented showed the composition of the committee and the engagement of stakeholders in Imo State”.

“The election was conducted free and fair. There was no rancour. It was monitored by the Independent National Electoral Commission and the police and other security agencies. We didn’t receive any adverse report of a violent incident.

“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 submitted our result to INEC. At the end of the day, the aspirant that got the highest votes is Honourable 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 moment ago.

“We also sent a copy of our report to the election appeal committee, in case there may be an Appeal emanating from the exercise. We have submitted a report to the Police and INEC before we left Imo State”.

In a separate address to the journalists minutes afterwards, Alhaji Umar Gana declared that the result submitted by Senator Basiru is false and doesn’t represent the collective votes of the people of Imo State.

He spoke shortly after submitting the results of his own faction to the Buni’s Caretaker Committee. Alhaji Gana maintained that Senator Ifeanyi Araraume remains the authentic winner of the Primaries. Gana also alleged that Senator Basiru and his faction conducted and compiled results in their hotel rooms and never visited any of the wards where the elections are taking place. And that he (Gana) compiled the results in an ordinary result sheets since the materials assigned to them is in Senator Basiru’s custody.

He said: No, it is not necessary we have to write on a result sheet. Just bring your own result, the important thing is to bring your own result, not necessary on a result sheet. The party gave us a document, if the leader of the committee who is in the possession of the document and the result sheet, if he said he is not going out, then I should go and sleep? No! You can write on the paper and come to the party and explain to them that this is what happened. It is left for them to act or not to act. We have given our result to them and explained to them what happened and they said they are going to look into it. We gave them and they collected it, you can ask them questions and they will answer you.”

On the other hand, Senator Ajibola disputed the fact that there was a face off in his team as he went further and said: “I don’t know of any problem. The party appointed me as the chairman and appointed the secretary. As a member of a committee, you may decide to participate in the activities of the committee or not to participate. As at Thursday noon, we all had 7 members of the committee who were active and participated in the process. There is pictorial evidence to back this claim. There was no dispute, no rancour. Suddenly I just can’t see the three members. We went to check their rooms, as I talk to you now, I have not set my eyes on them.

“If there was a dispute, they should be able to tell you (media). They should tell you where they went when you see them. I reported them to the police that I can’t see them. We checked their rooms where they left the television sets there on, we had to break into the rooms for fear that nothing untoward had happened to them. They absconded and four of us were on ground to do the work and you know that 4 is greater than 3. In our party, the day will not come when 3 will be greater than 4.

“If my committee is not recognised, I will not be here. We just presented our report to the Organising Secretary.”

Senator Ajibola on this note, claimed that since on his own side he still have 4 members out of 7, which constitute the majority, that he has gone ahead in his capacity as the Chairman of the panel to declare Frank Ibezim winner of the election.

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