By Nsan Ndoma-Neji
The of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has reaffirmed Dr. Stephen Odey’s as it’s authentic candidate for the October 31, 2020 by-election for Cross River North senatorial district.
Describing claims by Odey’s opponent in its primary election that the senatorial primaries was manipulated by the party in favor of Odey as ridiculous and baseless allegations, the party in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, sighted by our reporter on Tuesday in Calabar, stated that Odey is the only confirmed candidate known by the party as its flag bearer for October 30 northern senatorial bye-elections.
The statement stressed that following conflicting reports which emanated from certain quarters after the senatorial primaries held on September 5, in Ogoja Local Government Area of Cross River State that Rt. Hon. Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe won the polls when, it becomes imperative to clarify the issue of who wins and who does not.
Cautioning Agom, Rt. Hon. Lukpata Ogana and Mary Iji over their allegations against the party’s National Working Committee, NWC, for not following due process during the primary election, the statement added, “The attention of the National Working Committee, NWC, of our great party has been drawn to misleading comments by one of the aspirants in the recently conducted Cross River North senatorial sistrict primary election, Hon. Jarigbe-Agom Jarigbe, wherein he made spurious allegations against the NWC over his failure at the exercise.
“Ordinarily, the NWC should not honour such a reckless and irresponsible allegation with a response, but being a responsive leadership, the Prince Uche Secondus-led NWC, in the interest of the teeming members and supporters of our party in Cross River State, has decided to put the record straight.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Cross River North senatorial district election was duly conducted by a five-man Electoral panel, with a comprehensive delegates list issued by the party.
“At the end of the exercise, a majority report by three members of the electoral panel, signed by the Chairman, Secretary and a member of the committee, indicated that three aspirants; Hon. Jarigbe and two others were in attendance along with INEC officials and security agencies at the time of accreditation of delegates.
“The report also contained the accreditation of agents of the aspirants, one of whom represented Hon. Jarigbe.
“However, according to the report, during voting, Hon. Jarigbe and two other aspirants, namely Mr. Lupkata Nicholas and Mrs. Mary Eru staged a walk-out, having been part of the exercise from the beginning.”
The party also reaffirmed that Odey polled 450 votes; while Agom garnered 90 votes, making the former the authentic candidate.
Ologbondiyan said, “The majority report indicated that at the end of the exercise, which was abandoned by Hon. Jarigbe, an aspirant, Dr. Steve Odey scored 450 votes to defeat Hon. Jarigbe, who scored 90 votes.
“On the 7th of September, the Chief Returning Officer, Hon. Tebite, in returning Dr. Steve Odey as the winner, also submitted to the national secretariat, the delegate list used for accreditation, ballot papers, (used and unused); original result sheets, CTC copies of INEC report from Cross River State as well as the police report, as required.”
The PDP averred in the statement that the report submitted which presented Jarigbe Agom as winner with 381 votes was invalid and based on falsehood.
It said, “On the other hand, two members of the committee submitted a minority report to the national secretariat in which they presented the name of Hon. Jarigbe as winner with 381 votes.
“It is instructive to note that the minority report submitted by the two members did not contain the original party result sheets as approved by the party’s electoral guidelines. It did not also contain the used and unused ballot papers as required for authentication.
“What is more, the congress purportedly conducted by the two members was done outside the authorized and approved venue for the exercise.
“Moreover, the report of the Appeal Panel indicated that there was no appeal against the report submitted by the Chief Returning Officer and accordingly approved the congress as conducted and the election of Dr. Steve Odey, as candidate of our party.
“The decision of the NWC in accepting the election of Dr. Steve Odey is therefore completely in compliance with the constitution and the extant guidelines made thereunder.
“The NWC was in no way involved and played no roles, directly or remotely, in the conduct of the election by the committee set up for the purpose.
“It is, thus irresponsible, thoughtless and childish of Hon Jarigbe to point accusing fingers at the NWC for his electoral failure and self-inflicted woe.
“Such is condemnable and completely unacceptable to the national leaders and members of our great party across board.
“The NWC therefore cautions Hon. Jarigbe to desist from such unwarranted attempt to bring our party to disrepute, which is frowned at by the constitution of the PDP.”