• Dariye allegedly seeks re-election from prison •Ruling party rattled, says it won’t interfere with INEC
Seriki Adinoyi in Jos and Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The National Secretariat of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Abuja was a beehive of activities yesterday as many aspirants of the party besieged the place to either purchase nomination forms or submit completed ones.
This is coming as a former Governor of Plateau State and Senator representing Plateau Central in the National Assembly, Chief Joshua Chibi Dariye, who was recently convicted and jailed by an Abuja court for financial misappropriation, is now allegedly seeking re-election from prison in the 2019 general election.
The alleged purchase of the APC’s nomination form by the jailed Dariye is said to have rattled the ruling party.
The ruling party has, however, dismissed the allegation by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that it has pocketed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) head of the 2019 general election.
Going by the APC’s extended deadline for the sales and submission of nomination forms, the exercise will end on Tuesday.
One of notable aspirants that came to purchase nomination forms yesterday was the Lagos State Governor, Akinwumi Ambode.
Ambode arrived at the party secretariat at about noon and went straight to the office of the National Organising Secretary to pick his nomination form.
Other governorship aspirants who had picked their forms were Attom Magira from Borno State; Zamfara Deputy Governor, Ibrahim Mohammed, and Mr. John Upan Odey Jnr who is contesting for the APC governorship ticket for Cross River State.
Also yesterday, a former Inspector General of Police (IG), Suleiman Abba, joined the race for the Jigawa State Central senatorial district on the platform of the APC.
He said those currently campaigning for state police in Nigeria are not sincere.
Addressing journalists yesterday after he picked his nomination and Expression of Interest forms at the National Secretariat of the APC in Abuja, Abba said he was in the race to bring quality representation for his constituents and contribute meaningfully to national development, adding that the country was not ripe for the state police.
Meanwhile, Dariye, who was recently convicted and jailed by an Abuja court for financial misappropriation, is now allegedly seeking re-election from prison in the 2019 general election.
A Federal Capital Territory High Court in Gudu, Abuja in June convicted and sentenced the former governor to 14 years imprisonment for diverting public funds worth N1.126 billion.
However, while still serving his term at Kuje prison, Dariye last Friday allegedly purchased the Senate nomination form for re-election on the All Progressives Congress (APC) platform sources revealed.
Pictures of the purchased and filled forms were displayed online last Sunday evening affirming that the convicted Senator was ready to run for a third term in the Senate, while still serving his jail term.
The Senator’s kinsman, Shadrach Kopmuk, who published the photos of the form on Facebook, wrote: “Just to notify all teeming supporters of our amiable Senator Chief (Dr) Joshua C. Dariye, that the people’s senator has purchased and filled the APC nominations and declaration of interest to contest in the forthcoming APC primary election and 2019 general election to represent the good people of Plateau Central in the ninth assembly.”
Other sources said Dariye has commenced processes for the appeal of his sentence, and might be let off the hook.
“If he hadn’t considered an appeal, his seat would have been declared vacant, but it can’t be because with the appeal, the case is still undecided,” one of the sources added.
If he becomes successful, Dariye might be the first Nigerian politician to contest elections from the prison.
If he wins the election, he will be the first Plateau Senator to serve three tenures.
Meanwhile the report of alleged purchase of nomination form by Dariye has become a source of worry to the APC.
As at last night the party had kept mom over the issue.
It was however, learnt the leadership has begun an in-house study to find out the true position.
A reliable party source told THISDAY last night that the national chairman of the party has waded into the matter to ascertain what actually happened.
In another development, the ruling party has dismissed the allegation that it controlled INEC, saying as far as it is concerned, INEC is an independent election management body devoid of any form of government interference.
While reacting yesterday to the allegation contained in a communiqué issued by the PDP Governors Forum after its meeting in Abuja, the acting National Publicity Secretary of APC, Yekini Nabene, accused PDP of being petty and always making frivolous allegations to gain public attention.
“APC does not and will not tamper with INEC operations. INEC is an independent body and does not need anyone to direct it on what to do. PDP is just being petty and fond of raising allegations that have no basis. The opposition party has forgotten what used to be its relationship with the INEC under Prof. Maurice Iwu. It has forgotten the numerous court cases that were recorded during those days. We are tired of the PDP’s petty antics and Nigerians should ignore them,” he said.