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Cross River North primary by-election: Two die as violence mars PDP’s event

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Two Winners Emerge In APC

No fewer than two persons were allegedly shot dead, as violence erupted at yesterday’s Cross River North Senatorial by-election primary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

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Over 200 well-armed policemen were at the event, which held at the Ogoja Local Counci venue. Delegates and journalists were dispersed with several tear gas canisters.

However, former Chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Dr. Stephen Odey, was declared winner, despite the alleged irregularities and disobedience of the Federal High Court Order of September 4.

Odey polled 450 votes to defeat his closest rival, and member of the House of Representatives, Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe, who garnered 90 votes.  

ALSO, confusion trailed the just-concluded All Progressives Congress (APC), Cross River North Senatorial primary, as two aspirants claimed victory.

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The National Officers of APC, who conducted the primary at Ogoja, on September 4, 2020, declared a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Joe Agi as the winner. He beat the outgoing Vice-Chancellor (VC) of the University of Calabar, Prof. Zana Akpagu and three others to emerge with 113, 229 votes, while Akpagu scored 8,635 votes.

The Chairman of APC Electoral Committee for the Senatorial District Election, Alhaji Suleiman Nakowa, and Secretary,  Mr. Jenkins Gwede, submitted the result and report of the exercise to the Director of Organisation, yesterday, for the formal announcement.

After submission of the result, they announced Agi as winner and candidate of the party for the October 31, 2020 by-election.

But, some persons from Obudu and other parts of the state, announced Prof. Akpagu, as the winner for the October 31 by-election.

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In the result declared by the Returning Officer, Mr. Lazarus Undie, Akpagu scored 75,492 votes to defeat his closest rival, Agi (SAN) that was said to have scored 12,813 votes.

He said: “Based on what we have declared here, we state that Prof. Zana Akpagu, having scored the highest number of votes in this contest is the winner of the APC Senatorial primary election.”

The result was said to have been witnessed by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) official.

However, top party sources in Abuja said the party had asked Akpagu not to contest the primary as the Minister of State, Mr. Jeddy Agba, the State Governor, Senator Ben Ayade, were all from Obudu Local Council and it would be unfair to take Senatorial position there.

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They argued that it was fair to Zone the position to Yala\Ogoja where Agi, and others come from.

Speaking on the PDP primary, Cross River State Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Victor Udu, said: “I have not seen anything near this scale before, where security men refuse to recognise anybody, even when journalists identified themselves with their tags.

“The security men said they were out on a mission. It’s a shame. It is said that a senatorial by-election primary could degenerate to this level. It’s indeed unfortunate and a shame to our democracy…”

The chairman of the electoral panel, Olorogun Taleb Tebite, described the process as “peaceful and orderly.”

An INEC official, who observed the primary, Mr. Amula Timotheus, expressed satisfaction with the exercise.

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He said the exercise was conducted in line with INEC guidelines and was, therefore, satisfactory.

The state governor, Sir Ben Ayade, expressed satisfaction with the exercise.

The governor, who spoke moments after casting his vote, lauded the peaceful atmosphere under which the election was held.

Reacting, Agom rejected the report, saying: “Many delegates were excluded and I will take appropriate steps in seeking redress.

“That election was a nullity, as they did not obey the court order and the authentic list was not used”.

Also speaking, former PDP National Publicity Secretary, Venatius Ikem, Esq, said what transpired was not a true reflection of a party primary, as even Jarigbe had to leave when he noticed the irregularities.

Ikem, who was also an automatic delegate from Obudu, alleged that some fake delegates were brought in through the back door, just as officials from Government House and security agents manhandled delegates.

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