We monitored Edo PDP primary, Says INEC
The ousted National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, has accused the Chairman of the party’s National Caretaker Committee, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, of sponsoring Fulani herdsmen to evict him and his loyalists out of the national secretariat.
Sheriff, while inaugurating his group’s version of the governorship election primaries committee for Edo State yesterday in Abuja, insisted that Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) did not monitor the Makarfi primary.
“ INEC is a creation of law and is created to monitor political parties. We are told officially that INEC did not send anybody to monitor the election,” he said.
However, contrary to claims by Sheriff that INEC’s personnel did not monitor last Monday’s Edo State governorship primary conducted by the Makarfi-led caretaker committee, the commission confirmed that it indeed sent its staff to witness the exercise.
The INEC’s Director of Voter Education and Publicity, Oluwole Osaze Uzzi, who spoke to journalists on telephone yesterday said the commission was duly represented at the PDP’s governorship primaries state. “I am not aware of claims by anyone to the contrary, but all I can say is that INEC’s staff witnessed the PDP governorship and they are in the process of submitting their report.
Also, the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, confirmed to journalists that the commission was represented at the primaries which saw the emergence of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu as the candidate of the PDP. On why he decided not to operate from the party office, Sheriff said the move was to allow for police investigations into the attack by the Fulani herdsmen.
“The National Secretary narrowly escaped being attacked by Fulani herdsmen. Makarfi sent Fulani herdsmen to the secretariat but thank God, they narrowly escaped death,” he said. Sheriff explained that during the meeting, the former Inspector-General of Police, Solomon Arase, held with him and Makarfi, it was agreed that the national secretariat should be shutdown and protected by the Police IG pending the investigations.
He also said that both parties in the conflict were asked to nominate four persons each to go into peace talks, but that he has insisted that Makarfi should first submit his own list to his office before the talks can begin.
“At the meeting, Arase advised that since nobody could take away the fact that I am still the national chairman, why don’t you allow us to conclude our investigations to find out who is behind the attack by the herdsmen, and I obliged. As soon as police conclude investigation, the secretariat shall be opened and I will operate from there.
“What we try to do is to always be on the side of the law, and today we are inaugurating our governorship primary for Edo State. I am waiting for Makarfi to bring his names, I am still the chairman. Yes, the former IG told us to nominate members and I told him when you are ready you call me,” he said.
On the state of the party, particularly on the financial state of the party, Sheriff who denied that he was serving out Bamanga Tukur’s tenure, said only he and the National Treasurer were presently the authorised signatories to the party’s account, adding that his group is in control of the finances of the party at the moment.
“If they like, they can go and open a caretaker account,” he said.
Sheriff also responded to the allegation by the Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose, that he (Sheriff) is nursing an ambition to run for the presidency and that he had been promising governors that he would make them running-mate come 2019.
“I heard that Ayo Fayose said that I want to be president, I never told anybody I want to be president or I want to run for president, or promised somebody to be my running mate. I don’t want to join issues with somebody like Fayose.
“For me personally, I am ashamed of the institution of governorship, and the way and manner Fayose conducts himself. I honestly don’t want to join issues with him because the institution of governorship is a very serious business. There is a level one should conduct himself. So I have no issue to join with Fayose. Any other governor can say something and I can understand. But for Fayose, he is free to say anything. I’m sure most people are aware of what is happening in the country about him.
Speaking on the efforts by his group to hold parallel governorship primaries in Edo State, Sheriff said that as at Thursday, N30 million had been paid to the party account by three aspirants.
“INEC sent us guideline yesterday and based on the timetable, July 3rd is the deadline for submission of party’s candidate to the commission and we determined to meet it. Three persons has bought forms for the PDP primary and there is only one PDP headed by Ali Modu Sheriff,” he said.
He explained that out of the 11 NWC whose tenure has not expired, nine are with him.
Speaking further on the crisis rocking the party and prospects of peace, Sheriff said the Makarfi-led caretaker committee is illegal and cannot stand.
He said that a Federal High Court in Abuja ruled yesterday that Makarfi cannot submit any candidate’s name to INEC.
“Any person who thinks any contraption can work is deceiving himself. We are moving to Wadata House immediately after investigation by the police. Primary will be transmitted alive.
According the list of the committee read out by Sheriff, the group’s governorship primaries committee will be headed by Senator Hope Uzodinam while Chief Makunjolua, the Deputy Vice Chairman (south west) is to head the screening committee.
Sheriff said that the party’s NWC will meet next Monday to consider nomination from the South to replace Prince Uche Secondus whom he said had voluntarily resigned from office.
While responding, Uzodinma said: “We have been challenged by this assignment and we will not disappointment. We will bring candidate who will win the election, PDP is going to take Edo from APC.