APC presidential candidate risks disqualication over Akwa Ibom crisis, Don Etiebet warns party

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From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja

Elder statesman and former Minister of Petroleum, Chief Don Etiebet, has warned the All Progressives Congress (APC) that its presidential candidate risks disqualication should the party’s leadership endorse the State’s governorship candidate produced through wrong delegates that voted during the Akwa-Ibom State governorship primary.

He spoke in Abuja on Wednesday during a press conference, describing the conduct of the State governorship primary as a charade.

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Explaining the consequences of the governorship exercise, he said: “The whole of this episode and the telephone conversation between Mike Igini, the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, the Director of DSS and the Panel Chairman is on tape.

“Unfortunately, the Panel members were surreptitiously drafted to another venue by certain people to proceed to purportedly conduct gubernatorial primaries without the presence of the Commission at about midnight when all the party faithfuls and delegates had since dispatched following the announcement of the postponement of the governorship primaries by the INEC Resident Commissioner of Akwa Ibom State.

“This is quite contrary to the provisions of Section 84(1) of the election Act and cannot be allowed to stand. We therefore take this opportunity to appeal to the leadership of our great party to intervene and have the situation redressed by directing the conduct of proper gubernatorial primaries in line with Section 84 (1) of the Electoral Act immediately before it is too late,” he said.

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“We hasten to warn, that the Akwa Ibom State challenge of using delegates that were not voted for, in line with the extant Electoral Laws if not addressed, the same delegates maybe used for the presidential primaries. Surely if that happens then the presidential primaries run a risk of not producing a validly nominated candidate in line with the Electoral Laws. This should not happen,” he warned.

While narrating their ordeals in the hands of the national leadership of the party, he said: “You are all living witnesses to all the challenges against all efforts we have been making to get the party to redress our differences that are now common knowledge, particularly as we are foisted with persons who did not win any election, at any congress monitored by INEC, as State Executives in Akwa Ibom State.

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“Another instance is the decision on the part of our party when they unceremoniously withdrew their appeal against the judgment of the trial court that was instituted by their predecessor in office i.e, the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), whose actions in office were fully ratified by the National Convention.

Presently, we are all living witnesses to the fact that our party has been constrained to seemingly conduct primaries that are not consistent with the provision of Section 84 (1) of the Electoral Act which states that: “A political party seeking to nominate candidates for elections under this Act shall hold primaries for aspirants to all elective positions which shall be monitored by the Commission”

“The consequence of such conduct of primaries remains clear that our party in Akwa Ibom State may not be in the position to present any validly nominated candidate in Akwa Ibom State except the issues are redressed immediately.

“To clear the coast for our party to decide its fate properly, we decided not to dwell anymore on the issues in the court room of the Court of Appeal and have now decided to withdraw forthwith from participating in further proceedings at the Court of Appeal in respect of Sen. John James Akpanudoedehe’s Appeal.

“Happily, he has respected our opinion to withdraw the appeal, in the hope that the entire matter be submitted to the Party to review, and address based on the facts and circumstances on ground. We are all aware that the Panel sent from the National Headquarters of our great party arrived the Victor Attah International Airport in a Private jet and was received by the party’s South South Zonal Secretary.

“Thereafter they rode in convoy in a bus and were to go to the authorized INEC recognized Venue at Sheergrace Arena for the conduct of the gubernatorial primary election where all the accredited delegates had gathered,” he explained.

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