From Priscilla Ediare Ado Ekiti
The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ekiti State has reversed its early stand disqualifying 17 aspirants seeking the House of Assembly tickets to contest the 2023 polls in the state.
The aspirants were on Friday cleared to participate in the primary by the House of Assembly Appeal Panel constituted after the news filtered into town Thursday evening that they had been disqualified by the screening committee over “untenable and flimsy excuses”.
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A statement by the Screening Committee, Hon. Dele Akinleye, confirmed their disqualifications on Thursday, but no reason was stated for this action.
It was gathered that some of the aspirants were prevented from the contest on account of not filling a section of the nomination form indicating their withdrawal from the race even when no primary had been held.
Some serving lawmakers and aspirants cleared for reelection include: Deputy Speaker, Hakeem Jamiu(Irepodun/Ifelodun 2), Yemisi Ayokunle(Ekiti South West 2), Adeoye Aribasoye(Ikole 2), Teju Okunnuga(Gbonyin constituency), Lateef Akanle(Ekiti East 2), Adeoye Oyekola(Ekiti West 2), among others.
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Tension rose at the JKF centre, Ajilosun area of Ado Ekiti, the screening venue, on Friday, as the aggrieved aspirants massed and threatened to protest against the party and subsequently take legal actions individually to challenge their alleged disqualifications.
Some of the aspirants alleged that they were disqualified to give way for the return of some incumbent lawmakers seeking reelection, which they described as undemocratic.
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Sensing that the legal backlash may portend danger to the party, as primary conducted under that “shoddy” exercise might be annulled, a powerful government official, was said to have stepped in on Friday and gave legal advice that their former action must be rescinded.
The official was said to have overtly submitted that all the reasons adduced as responsible for the aspirants’ disqualifications were flimsy and couldn’t stand legal scrutiny.
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The party’s appeal panel , had however, reversed the earlier action, on Friday, in a statement by the party’s State Working Committee.
An unsigned statement by the party, said: “It has been resolved that every aspirant is now cleared and should go to the field in preparation for the coming primaries, which in extant, is scheduled to hold on Friday 27th May 2022.
“Further briefing will be duly communicated. May the best emerge to represent our party, APC, in the general election.”
When called to ascertain the authenticity of the statement, the party’s State Publicity Secretary, Segun Dipe said: “The statement was genuine. All the aspirants have been told to prepare for primary”.
In a telephone conversation, two of the affected assembly aspirants, Kayode Ojo and Ayodeji Adarabierin, vying for the tickets in Irepodun/Ifelodun Constituency II and Ado Ekiti constituency 1 respectively, applauded the party for the decision.
They said allowing all aspirants to participate will lend credence to the fact that APC is truly democratic.
Adarabierin said: “APC is a party of peace and love and this decision has confirmed that.
“But we appeal to the national leadership to as a matter of fact protect us further by ensuring that the primary is conducted in line with the provisions of the law.
“I am a loyal party man with huge respect for the leadership. If I lose at the primary, that won’t stop me from supporting whoever the party picks”, he stated.