Ahead of the November 16 governorship election in Kogi state, the candidate of the Allied Peoples’ Movement, APM, Yusuf Dantalle has raised alarm over what he called a threat to his life because of his refusal to quit the race.
Dantalle who doubles as the national chairman of the party also accused the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, of working in sync with the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC to prevent thirteen political parties from participating in the election.
Briefing newsmen at the party’s national secretariat yesterday, Dantalle said INEC officials deliberately left their duty posts on Monday to stop the party from beating the deadline for candidate’s substitution, following the rejection of his running mate, Awombo Bala, on the account of age. Bala is 30 years-old.
He said, “There is a threat to my life. I don’t know what they have taken that they want to cover. The All Progressives Congress, APC, don’t want to have any viable opposition in Kogi State.
“There is a grand plan to rig Kogi governorship election in favour of APC, and that plan is strong. We can recall that during the primary election in APC, some strong contenders in the party were disqualified. Now there is a plan to disqualify some political parties, using INEC.
“There are political parties that will accept money. I was approached to withdraw from the contest. For those who refused to withdraw, INEC will use legal technicalities to disqualify them.
“And as I am talking to you now, 13 political parties have not been allowed to key into the political process.”
On the fate of his party in the election following the age controversy of his running mate, Dantalle added: “It is in the law that after nomination, INEC will make provisions for withdrawal and replacement of candidates.
“My own party, for instance, was written to, that our deputy governorship candidate was not duly nominated because of age, and this happened within the period allowed for replacement.
“Today (Monday) is the last day for the replacement. We went there on Friday with the response but they did not attend to us. We brought the replacement on Friday but INEC want to technically disallow it.
“Today (Monday) is the last day and the people who are supposed to attend to us said they are waiting for directive from INEC Chairman.
“I want the world to know that INEC is working with APC to truncate Kogi governorship election, and to suffocate other political parties in favour of APC. Money is being shared and we have the intelligence report.”
Meanwhile, INEC in a reaction through its National Commissioner in charge of voter education and Publicity, Festus Okoye, said the nomination was invalid ab initio, adding that there is no room to make substitution in such instance.
In a letter dated September 13th, addressed to the APM national chairman, INEC premised its position on the need to protect the provision of the constitution.
The letter read in part: “The Commission wishes to draw your attention to the constitutional age requirement of 35 years for governorship/deputy governorship candidate as stipulated in Sections 177 (b) and 187 (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
“Consequently, in line with the provision of the Constitution and in light of the personal particulars of the candidate submitted by your party, the nomination of Awombo Bala as the deputy governorship candidate of your party for the 16th November governorship election in Kogi state is invalid.”
In a telephone conversation, Okoye had this to say: “If there was a valid nomination and one of the candidates nominated, with his own handwriting, write a letter addressed to the political party that nominated him to withdraw from the race; then the political party that nominated him can substitute him.
“Other than that, the only way any political party can carry out substitution is if the candidate nominated dies or is incapacitated. If a political party nominated a candidate that is invalid ab initio, there is nothing to substitute. Nigerian News