The Professor Jonathan Ayuba-led Screening Committee of the All Progressives Congress, APC, for the Edo State Governorship primary election has disqualified the incumbent governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, as well as Engr. Chris Ogiemwonyi and Hon. Matthew Iduoriyekemwen.
Presenting the report of the committee to the National Working Committee NWC of the party on Friday in Abuja, Prof. Ayuba cited discrepancies in the names and certificates of the governor. For Ogiemwonyi, the committee also cited discrepancies in his names while it disqualified Iduoriyekemwen on the grounds that he instituted a suit against the party without exhausting all mechanisms of settlement in line with the APC Constitution.
Speaking on the activities of his committee, Prof. Ayuba said; “We are staking our integrity. The integrity of the process in this country in order to arrive at what we have done. Mr Chairman, our report is conclusive. Every member signed and has agreed with what we have decided at the committee level. This is essential because we want to be judged by what we have done and what we are presenting.
“We were thorough in the manner in which we conducted the exercise. We recorded live the interaction with each of the aspirants. The unedited clip is what we are giving as part of our report. We want to be judged by what we have done and not by what a third party says or by rumour.
“The methodology we used is clear. It was evidence-based. All we did was an interaction.
“We screened six aspirants. Three were eligible to contest and three were deemed ineligible to participate.
The first candidate was Mr Osaro Obaze. The committee after screening and the verification of the candidate’s documents found him eligible to contest the primary. Based on the committee’s observation above, the candidate is cleared.
“Engr Chris Osa: The name on all the certificates presented by the aspirants are in contradiction with one another. Also, the sworn declaration of age deposed to by one Capt. Stephen on 3rd June 2016 bore two conflicting names of the aspirant.
“Considering the discrepancy in all the certificates presented and also the difference in the names contained in the sworn affidavit of June 2016, and having regards to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Electoral Act, APC Constitution and the party’s guidelines for the nomination of candidates and the reliance on the cases that have been settled by the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal, it is the considered view of the committee that this aspirant does not meet the requirements to participate in the primary election of the APC.
“In view of the findings of the committee above, Engr Chris is not cleared.
“Dr Pius Odubu: The observations are that the name Pius Egberanmwen Precious Odubu appeared on different documents. However, an anomaly was noticed in the affidavit deposed to by his father and our recommendation is the Pius Odubu is eligible to participate in the election.
“Mr Godwin Obaseki: Though, His Excellency, Godwin Obaseki in his nomination form claimed to have obtained a Higher School Leaving Certificate from an Institute of Continuing Education, Benin. It was observed however that no educational certificate such as HSC is known in Nigerian educational system. Even then, the same HSC was never presented in the course of the screening exercise. The aspirant admitted that he has never collected it.
“The attestation from the Institute of Continuing Education, Benin from where the alleged HSC which was indicated in the field of attendance as obtained is of no consequence, as it only attests that Obaseki was a student of the Institute. So what we had was like an attendance. It was just attendance, it was not a result.
“Although, the Committee received a petition on his University of Ibadan Bachelor of Arts Classics certificate which he submitted to INEC in 2016 when he first contested as governor, the committee on further probing was presented with an original certificate issued by the University and the original was sighted.
“On the NYSC certificate dated 6th August 1980, the committee observed that he bears the name ‘Obasek’ Godwin. While this may be an error on the part of the issuing authority, we observed however that the aspirant has not taken any step ever to have the anomaly corrected by the issuing authority.
“In our interaction with issues raised, we concluded that HSC was defective. The NYSC certificate and the fact that the aspirant took the party to court, the above aspirant, His Excellency, Godwin Obaseki, therefore, is not eligible to participate in the election.
“During our interaction which was done live, he informed us that he has instituted a suit against the party and the National Chairman. Yesterday (Friday) we received all the documents of those processes and we had to rely on the party constitution because it is stated clearly that remedies should be carried through party processes. We gave an opportunity for them to give us pieces of evidence to show that this was done and nothing happened.
“The last aspirant we screened was Iduoriyekemwen and our recommendation is that because he has also instituted a case before the court and which he admitted and since the Constitution is clear about such actions, it is the view of the committee that he is not eligible to participate in the exercise”, he explained.
Go on appeal
Receiving the report, National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole restated his earlier position that the verdict of the committee was not final, urging those who are aggrieved to file their complaints to the Appeal Committee.
He said; “As I mentioned at the inauguration of this committee, your report is still subject to the Appeal Committee and the appeal committee will give an opportunity to all those who have participated in this exercise to appeal if they have reasons to disagree with the findings of this committee.
“As of yesterday, those aspirants have been advised to take full advantage of the appeal mechanism if they wish and the appeal Committee has been out on notice to be ready to hear any appeal arising from these aspirants”.
APC will be punished
Erstwhile National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun has reacted angrily to the disqualification of Gov. Obaseki, saying except the verdict is immediately reversed, the party risks punishment in the state.
Odigie-Oyegun’s position was contained in a statement by his Public Afford Adviser, Ray Morphy titled, “All Options are on the Table”.
According to him, “the disqualification of Obaseki by the APC Screening Panel is a hatchet job aimed at installing a stooge that will allow some people unfettered access to Edo Treasury”.
“While not a surprise, that disqualification is a clear indication that internal democracy has been murdered in APC, a party which we founded on the principles of fair play and good conscience!
“I daresay that APC will suffer dire consequences in Edo state if this disqualification is not speedily reversed.
“As a matter of fact, Oshiomole is indeed the one who is guilty of anti-party, not Obaseki. Oshiomole is the one who is acting unconstitutionally not Obaseki. I hope that Oshiomolewill not go down in history as the undertaker of APC,” he stated.
Let’s close ranks
Reacting to the outcome of the committee’s work, Pastor Ize-Iyamu hailed them for doing a thorough job and urged stakeholders of the party to close ranks to ensure its electoral victory.
The Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu Campaign Organisation in a statement endorsed by its Director of Communication and Media, Mr John Mayaki said; “I wish to send my deepest gratitude to all the members of our great party, the All Progressives Congress, for joyful cooperation that led to a seamless but thorough screening exercise.
“The progress made today by completing this exercise reveals the true spirit and character of our party premised on a bold insistence on fairness, accountability, and transparency.
“On my own part, having passed the screening tests, I want to state my consistent readiness to take the will of the party as the ultimate, regarding its laws and principles as the supreme guide for the execution of our affairs and assignments.
“I urge all the members of our party whose indefatigable commitment, loyalty, and cooperation has led to the success we experienced in recent times, to remain focused and committed to our general ambition as a party, and in the same vein pursuant of our personal political dreams in light of our progressive philosophy.
“As we prepare for the primaries and the election itself, it is time we bind together and close ranks, remembering that the greatest goal is the progress of Edo State, the moving forward of our great homeland, and the betterment of life for all of its people.”