- Bello is our flag-bearer – APC
- Faleke picks late Audu’s son as running mate
- Protesters clash at APC national secretariat
- INEC: Only court can stop Kogi poll Saturday
Crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress, APC, over the successor to late Prince Abubakar Audu as the party’s governorship candidate in Kogi state deepened yesterday as supporters of two of the claimants of the ticket clashed at the party national secretariat, Abuja.
Also, late Audu’s running mate in the inconclusive poll, James Abiodun Faleke, yesterday, addressed the press at APC secretariat, vowing not to accept being running mate to Yahaya Bello or anybody, although the party said Bello remains the replacement candidate for the December 5 bye-election.
Nigerian Pilot gathered yesterday that INEC has officially communicated the candidature of Yahaya Bello to APC ahead of the Saturday bye-election
Speaking to newsmen while storming out of a meeting with members of the national working committee of the party yesterday, Faleke insisted he is challenging the adoption of Bello in court, adding that he had already written to INEC asking the electoral body not to include his name as deputy governorship candidate to Bello. The standoff has already created tension as supporters of Yahaya Bello and that of James Faleke yesterday engaged in a free for all fight in front of APC secretariat, damaging some private vehicles parked close to the secretariat.
Yahaya Bello had come in first with his supporters and went straight up to confer with the national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun while his supporters were chanting solidarity songs in his support until Hon Faleke came with his own group; and that was when the solidarity songs turned into war songs.
Sticks and stones were used freely and the gate of the APC secretariat was blocked to the effect that Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State and Senator Dino Melaye could not have access but were later smuggled into the meeting. However it took the reinforcement of a lorry load of soldiers and mobile police men to bring the situation to normalcy.
While the battle raged, Faleke announced that he has picked the first son of late Prince Audu, Mohammed, as his running mate and vowed not the drop his mandate.
Faleke who spoke yesterday at late Prince Abubakar Audu’s house in GRA, Lokoja alongside Muhammadu Audu, amidst other Igala political leaders, said the mandate of late Audu has rubbed on him.
He said they will stop at nothing to reclaim the mandate that ‘INEC ‘momentarily truncated by declaring the election inconclusive’ and called on the national leadership of the party to respect the mandate of the Audu/Faleke ticket, even as he vowed to defend the people’s expression of November 21.
Faleke, who said he was nominated by Audu as running mate in fulfilment of Section 187 of the Constitution which mandated the governorship candidate to do so as a constitutional requirement for his candidacy, said the leadership of the party should operate within the ambit of the Electoral Act and other related law in fixing the impasse perfectly.
“The party handed over to us the INEC Nomination Forms as its flag bearers. The primaries, therefore, remained an ad-hoc tool mainly for the purpose of producing a candidate for the party,” he said.
“As matter of fact, it is beyond me and it has become a moral burden on my shoulders to defend on behalf of political family of late Prince Abubakar Audu, the interest, views and vision of our late leader”.
Faleke urged the Kogi electorate and teeming supporters of the late Prince Abubakar Audu to remain peaceful and law abiding, assuring that “no matter how long it takes, your mandate will be defended, sustained and maintained.”
Earlier, State Chairman, Prince Abubakar Audu/James Faleke Campaign Council, Mr Humphrey Abba said democracy is all about the people, adding that few individuals should not change the people’s decision.
“The people of Kogi have the right to choose who they want. Abuja cannot impose a candidate on us. APC must give effect to the decision of our people. APC national working committee must give effect to the anti-corruption stand of President Buhari”, he said.
Earlier, the Audu family and his supporters in kogi met yesterday morning and announced that they are throwing their weight behind Faleke.
While Faleke was addressing his supporters in Lokoja, his rival, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, the presumptive candidate of APC, arrived the national secretariat of the party.
Bello, who arrived the party headquarters about 2:59pm, was dressed in a sky blue native attire.
He was accompanied by officers of the Department of State Services and some close aides and went into the office of the party’ s national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, for a meeting with members of the national working committee.
According to INEC Deputy Director, Publicity, Mr. Nick Daxang, only a court injunction can stop the commission from conducting the election, a position which is raising more concern by the stakeholders and party faithful in Kogi and across Nigeria.