*Insists primaries were held within deadline
By Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has rejected the verdict of the Independent National Electoral Commission that the party did not hold valid primary elections in Zamfara State.
The Commission had declared APC ineligible to field candidates for all elective positions in Zamfara State in 2019 based on its inability to hold party primaries within the stipulated time-frame.
The position of INEC was contained in a letter to the APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, on Tuesday.
However, the party on Wednesday replied INEC insisting that primaries actually took place in Zamfara State.
In the letter dated October 10 and signed by Oshiomhole, the party said that INEC did not capture the true situation of the APC primaries in Zamfara State.
APC said: “The contents of your letter seem to conclude that no primaries were conducted by the APC in Zamfara State. We wish to state emphatically that nothing can be farther from the actual situation in Zamfara State.
“Kindly find attached a comprehensive report from the Zamfara Electoral Committee of the APC and signed by all the members on the conduct of primary elections for the Zamfara State held between October 6th and 7th, 2018”.
Explaining what happened, APC said that following the frictions, disagreements and threatened violence by various political camps before the primaries, all the aspirants met at City King Hotel, Gusau, to find a truce.
It said that after hours of intense horse-trading, a consensus was reached within the spirit and context of the Electoral Act and the constitution of our party on the basis of which a list was produced which was confirmed/affirmed by all delegates present.
According to APC, the consensus arrangement was done in strict compliance with section 87 (6) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as Amended).
“Therefore, the claim in your letter under reference that “no primaries were conducted by your party in the state, notwithstanding that our officials were fully mobilised and deployed” could only be referring to their observation that actual voting did not take place, which is not the only mode prescribed for producing candidates in the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended).
“We, therefore, affirm that indeed primaries took place in Zamfara State.
“Please also refer to the lNEC’s Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2019 General. This is more so when released by the Commission on the 9th January, 2018,” the party said.
It accused INEC of not giving it a fair hearing before taking a position on the Zamfara State primaries.
APC further said that by INEC’s timetable, all political parties were expected to submit a list of their candidates on or before 18th of October, 2018, after exhausting all internal procedures for Appeals arising out of the congresses.
It said that it was in the process of exhausting those internal procedures before forwarding the names of our candidates to INEC.
“We are perplexed that you did not wait for us to submit the names of our candidates in Zamfara State (considering that the time within which such submission should take place has not elapsed) before raising your observation in your letter under reference.
The party also said that INEC did not try to ascertain the true state of affairs in Zamfara State, in the spirit of fair hearing, before making haste to write its letter, adding that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) did not also hold primaries in Kano, but no such similar letter was written to the PDP in relation to Kano State.
APC’s letter read: “It is our contention, in the circumstance, that your letter is not only preemptive, but your position seems to negate the spirit of any fair hearing and is devoid of legal basis.
“Be informed, (emphasis by the party) that in the spirit of due compliance with the law, we affirm that we shall indeed be presenting candidates for Governorship, National Assembly and State Assembly Elections in Zamfara State for the 2019 General elections before the deadline for submission of such names which has been fixed by your Commission on the 18th of October, 2018 and in line with section 87 (6) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended).
“If you raise further observations AFTER you receive our list of candidates, we shall be glad to clarify them. Please accept the assurances of our highest regards.”