House of Assembly aspirants on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Ebonyi chapter have alleged plots by the Screening Committee to disqualify them from participating in the forthcoming primary election of the party.
The 27 aspirants of the party drawn from across the 24 state constituencies of the state made the allegation at a press conference in Abakaliki on Sunday.Mr Chukwuoji Igodo from Ivo state constituency spokesman of the group alleged that Mr Ideato Ideato, chairman of the screening committee had told them shortly after the screening that they were not cleared over alleged non payment of party dues.
But, the 27 aspirants explained that they had duly paid their party dues and the that party also issued them with receipts of payment.It therefore noted that any attempt to have any of them disqualified would be illegal and unconstitutional and would be challenged at the appropriate legal authorities.
The group which cited some relevant sections of the 1999 Constitution as amended noted the political parties were not allowed under the constitution to impose nomination or disqualification criteria, measures or conditions on any aspirant or candidate for any election.Orji alleged that Ideato was working in connivance with some highly placed state government and party officials to destroy APC in Ebonyi.
The group further alleged that powerful figures in the state government were also secretly working with the opposition People’s Democratic party (PDP) to ensure the defeat of APC during the election.The group therefore called on Mallam Abdullahi Adamu, National Chairman of the party, to call the leader of the party in the state to order to avoid repeat of what happened to Zamfara state in 2019 in Ebonyi.
The aspirants threatened to sue the party if they are disqualified from contesting the primary election.”The Chairman of the screening Committee, one Mr Ideato Ideato, had shortly after our screening in Abakaliki, sent private text messages to 27 of us, saying that we were not cleared because we didn’t pay party dues.”We wish to state that we duly paid our party dues, receipts issued to us by the party and we are with the receipts.
“There is no reason to disqualify us from contesting the election because we met all party requirements for the election.”We are aware that Gov. Dave Umahi who is the leader of our great party in the state already had 24 aspirants he wants to impose on the party but he should allow us to contest and fail if he thinks that his preferred aspirants are more popular than us.”We call on the national chairman of the party to intervene and ensure that the right thing is done, because we have strong conviction that some powerful forces within government are working with PDP against APC victory ahead of 2023.
“If the party allows Ideato Ideato to screen us out of the primaries unduly, we shall be left with no option than to seek redress in court.”We state unequivically that we shall challenge our disqualification should the committee be allowed to go ahead to disqualify us,” Orji said.Meanwhile, Chief Stanley Okoro-Emegha, chairman of APC in Ebonyi in a swift reaction described the allegation of state government or leadership of the party in Ebonyi orchestrating disqualification of any aspirant as baseless, unfounded and spurious.
He urged party faithful, supporters and the general public to discountenance the allegation that there is plan to disqualify some aspirants for the state house of Assembly. “While must these few elements and unpopular individuals keep smearing the party at all cost. “They claimed that the screening committee informed them that they were not cleared based on certain issues which only the committee has the prerogative to decide and instead of interfacing with them, they rather chose to castigate the governor and myself. “What a pity! You know that it is easier to give a dog name just to kill it than taking responsibility.
May I advise them as the chairman of the party to explore legally available windows to seek for redress if they are not comfortable with the committee’s work rather than to discredit my leadership. “They also have my support in this regard if they so much wish; they should also remember that the screening committee is not answerable to the state but the national body that constituted it,” the chairman said.He added: “Let me also reiterate my unreserved loyalty to the party’s constitution and the will of the people that through the ballot brought me into power in 2021.
Under my watch no party adherent will be short-changed for any reason and I will not condone injustice of any kind no matter whose ox is gored. I represent the interest, unity and peace of our great party faithful and must always ensure that justice is served.”