Hundreds of protesters yesterday, practically shutdown the National Secretariat of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, demanding that the party leadership withhold and reverse the emergence of the former governor of the state, Prince Abubakar Audu, over his alleged ongoing trial by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Audu had last Saturday emerged the party flagbearer ahead of the November 21 governorship election in Kogi state, beating 27 other aspirants.
The former governor, who was on Tuesday denied the Certificate of Return by the National Secretariat on the grounds that the grace given to other aspirants to submit petitions against the primaries had not elapsed, got another shock of his life with the massive protest yesterday.
Some of the protesters who carried placards against the former governor’s candidature, with bold inscriptions like “Kogi State Say No To Audu, “We Need A Credible Leader In Kogi” among others, were also seen throwing stones at Audu’s supporters within the premises of the party’s secretariat.
Leader of the protesting group, Suleiman Muhammad, told newsmen in an interview that Audu’s ongoing case with EFCC was enough to disqualify him from the contest.
He said: “We are here to protest the candidature of Prince Abubakar Audu, under the platform of APC for the forthcoming governorship election in Kogi State. We say no to Abubakar Audu because he has N11billion corruption case with the EFCC. Until he clears himself of the case, he has no moral right to present himself for an election.
“The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has declared war against corruption. We the concerned citizens of Kogi State are in support of his anti-corruption move. We want to toe the line of the APC change mantra and we would not support Audu because of his alleged corruption.”
Sources at the party secretariat had on Tuesday confided in some newsmen that some party leaders were initially not comfortable with Audu’s emergence, saying he will be too big for them to approach if he eventually becomes governor.
Reacting to the protest, Audu said:
“90 percent of people in the Senate have cases with the EFCC. For the fact that you have a case with the EFCC does not make you a criminal. I have contested four different elections since 2007 and I was not disqualified, so what are they talking about? I contested in 2003, 2007 and 2011, what are they talking?
“The case has been with the EFCC since 2003 and since then, I have been contesting elections. It is those that do not have electoral value that are making noise and using cheap means to discredit me, it is a very unfortunate situation.
“EFFC has so far gone to four different courts in Lokoja and when I want to get judgment, they will quickly go to another court and restart the case. They are shopping for where they will nail me.
“This country’s Constitution states that one is innocent until a court proves him guilty. They are mischief makers.”

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