It has emerged that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) recognised the former Group Managing Director of Diamond Bank, Dr. Alex Otti, as the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in Abia State based on the submission of his name by Chief Victor Umeh-ledNational Chairman of APGA.
Otti’s candidacy had suffered a temporary setback when a state High Court placed an order stopping Umeh from parading himself as APGA National Chairman thereby leaving the fate of the candidates he submitted to INEC hanging in the balance as Chief Chris Ejike Uche emerged as “acting national chairman” with his own list of candidates.
But in a letter entitled: ‘Re: Submission of nomination of APGA candidate for the 2015 general election,’ addressed to the factional acting national chairman of APGA, Uche, which was made available to THISDAY, the national electoral body made it clear that only the list of candidates submitted by Chief Umeh was acceptable.
The three-paragraph letter from INEC dated December 31, 2014 and signed by Ibrahim K. Kawa for the Secretary to the commission, was a reply to a letter dated December 10, 2014 and received on December 29, 2014 in which Uche sent to INEC ‘by courier Form CF 002B and other documents for an alleged governorship candidate of APGA in Abia State.’
The electoral body explicitly stated in its reply that “the INEC does not receive submission of names of candidates through courier services (as) such submissions shall be by personal delivery of the Form CF 002 duly signed by signed by the National Chairman and the National Secretary of the political party.
“It is in the record of the commission that Chief Victor Umeh and Alhaji Sani Shinkafi are the National Chairman and National Secretary of APGA respectively,” INEC stated further in the said letter, adding that “the purported order of the high court of Abia State (which stopped Umeh from parading himself as APGA national chairman) has since Friday 12th December 12, 2014 been vacated.”
INEC also educated Uche that “in any event, no submission of candidate for an elective position for the 2015 general election shall be received less than 60 days before the elections (hence) the submission is accordingly not accepted.”
Meanwhile, the campaign organisation of Otti has debunked the allegation that agents and campaign volunteers of APGA were involved in purchasing of permanent voters cards (PVCs) in the rural communities of the state.
In a statement sent via e-mail, the Otti camp described the allegations as “not only befuddling but malicious and in bad taste,” adding, “we are amazed that the PDP will even band this allegation on air given that it sounds puerile, ludicrous and hollow to the discerning minds.”
It noted that its grassroots campaign drive was deliberately being misconstrued for political gains.
“In our goal to reach voters and campaign on the ground as widely as is possible and permissible, our campaign organisation has been embarking on door-to-door initiatives across the state since Otti emerged as the authentic APGA governorship candidate for the election,” the statement explained.
According to the Otti camp, the ruling PDP was becoming jittery and so has to “cook up” such allegations to tarnish the image of APGA” even in an era when INEC has tightened security and technological measures around its portal and cards which makes cloning difficult and near impossible.”