Abe wins in direct primary
Cole emerged winner in indirect primary
Lulu-Briggs withdraws, calls for postponement
Admin l Monday, October 01, 2018
PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria – Two factions in the Rivers State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC), on Saturday, September 30, held two parallel governorship primary, while the pro-Amaechi group held its indirect governorship primary at the open field at IIgboukwu Street, in the D-Line area of Port Harcourt, the pro-Abe group had its governorship primary in the 319 wards in the 23 local government areas of the state.
Four governorship aspirants were on the ballot in the direct primary conducted by the pro-Abe faction: Magnus Abe; Dawari George; Dumo Lulu-Briggs and Tonye Dele Cole. The Chief Returning Officer (CEO), Dr. Chigbo Sam Eligwe, who announced the result of the direct primary held by the pro-Abe’s group declared Senator Magnus Abe the winner of the contest.
He said Abe scored 144, 928 votes while Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs, who came second polled 3, 444 votes. Dawari George scored 1, 606 votes while Tonye Dele Cole garnered 882 votes.
In the direct governorship primary conducted by the pro-Abe’s group, all registered members of the APC who turned out for the exercise were accredited with their membership cards. All those accredited then queued behind the aspirant of their choice and were counted by the polling officers.
The pro-Amaechi faction which held the indirect primary used the list of delegates that emerged from the ward, local and state congresses held on May 19, 29 and 21, respectively.
Cole, Favoured by the Minister of Transportation and leader of the APC in Rivers State, won with 3, 329 votes; Dawari George came second with 491 votes; Lulu-Briggs who pulled out of the primary scored 38 votes and Senator Abe who voted in a parallel primary got one vote. A Rivers State High Court had on Wednesday, May 30, nullified the ward, local and state congresses held on May 19, 20 and 21, respectively. Justice Chiwendu Nwogu stated in his ruling that the process that led to the emergence of Ojukaye Flag-Amachree as Rivers Chairman of APC was fraudulent.
The presiding judge pointed out that the congresses had to be declared null and void, in view of the alleged contempt of court and arm-twisting of the judiciary by some leaders of APC, with the matter adjourned till June 26.
Some supporters of Senator Magnus Abe (Rivers Southeast), also a governorship aspirant on APC platform, from the 23 local government areas of Rivers state, who filed the suit, alleged that they were disenfranchised during the congresses by allies of the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, a former Rivers governor. Meanwhile, Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs, a governorship aspirant, has called for the “postponement of the Rivers State APC governorship primary in order to correct the gross anomalies that have marred the process.”
He told Journalists at a news conference, in Port Harcourt, on Sunday, that “the current process has been skewed in favour of Arch. Tonye Cole, the preferred aspirant of the leader of the party in Rivers State, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.”
It would be recalled that Chief Lulu-Briggs had expressed his support for direct primary but decided to go along with the decision of the National Working Committee of the APC which approved Indirect Primary for Rivers State. He observed: “Unfortunately, events leading to governorship primary in Rivers State have witnessed the following anomalies that have robbed it of the minimum acceptable standard that can guarantee its credibility.”
Chief Lulu-Briggs stated: “That the Rivers State Executive Committee has openly supported and canvassed support for Arch. Tonye Cole, the preferred aspirant of Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi.That State Delegates to the primary were not elected by party members in proper ward congresses but merely handpicked by the Rivers State Executive Committee.
“That in spite of the flawed process in which the so-called State Delegates were selected, the list of delegates and the guideline for the primary have not been made public. Our request to the State Executive Committee yesterday, Saturday, 29th of September, 2018, less than twenty four hours to the primary date for the list of delegates and guidelines yielded no fruit rather we were referred to the National Executive Committee of our great party.”
“That we have intercepted text messages sent by officials of the State Exco to these handpicked delegates to assemble at secret locations for accreditation and transportation to an undisclosed venue for the primary.”
Lulu-Briggs lamented: “It is clear from the foregoing that the minimum standards to guarantee a free and fair governorship primary are non existent and Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs has decided not to give credence to this obvious charade and hereby calls for its postponement.”