Lagos State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Sunday said it will not refund any money to chairmanship and councillorship aspirants who lost out in the recently concluded primary elections to select candidates for the scheduled July 24, 2021 local government polls.
The state’s Caretaker Committee Chairman, Chief Tunde Balogun, and the Secretary, Lanre Ogunyemi, had in a statement on Friday, titled, ‘List of 57 Lagos State APC Chairmanship and Vice Chairmanship candidates for the forth-coming 2021 Local Government Elections,’ announced the results of the primaries.
But the results had since been generating ripples in the rank and file of the party. There were also threats by hoodlums to invade the party secretariat located on ACME Road, Ogba. The area was decorated off by fierce-looking security operatives last week.
Some of the aggrieved aspirants have been pleading with the Governor’s Advisory Committee (GAC), the highest decision-making body in the state headed by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, former governor of Lagos State and the party’s national leader to refund their money.
According to them, chairmanship aspirants paid N2 million, plus N50,000 admin fee for the party’s nomination forms, while female aspirants got 50 percent off, exclusive of the admin fee.
“Aside, the nomination fees, we also settled party leaders and mobilise party members for the primaries. Why should they make us spend our hard-earned money when they know they already had preferred candidates?” one of the aspirants asked.
But speaking with Daily Independent on Sunday, Alhaji Tunde Balogun, the party chairman, said no aspirant should expect a refund as they were not forced into collecting the nomination forms.
He added that the party spent a lot of money in purchasing nomination forms, logistics and other expenses to conduct the primaries in 377 wards across the state.
“Nobody should expect any refund from us. If you contest an election, does INEC pay you back? The answer is no. So, why should any aspirant expect a refund from us?
“Yes, they paid for nomination forms but we produced ballot papers and other materials used for the primaries. We also spent a lot of money for logistics. So, there is no refund for anyone.
“Those who paid for nomination forms did so on their own volition. It was their choice to do so. Nobody forced anyone to pay for anything and I can tell you that the process was open and transparent.
“I have never seen any party so magnanimous to allow female aspirants to pay 50 percent of the nomination fees. I have never seen any party that has allowed aspirants less than 40 years to contest with 50 percent payment. We did that so that we can allow as many people to participate.
Also, we allowed the physically challenged to pay a meagre amount so that they too can participate. So, there is no reason for any refund. We have spent a lot of money on printing ballot papers, nomination forms and lots of funds were provided for logistics.
“Remember, we contested elections in 377 wards across the state. So, the cost was huge. These people are only looking at what they have paid as aspirants but what we have spent as a party is humongous”.
Balogun also appealed to aggrieved aspirants who are threatening to go to court not to do so, urging them to channel their grievances through the APC Election Appeal Committee.
“There is an appeal committee. They are still sitting and we will consider their report. I don’t see any reason why any aspirant should go to court.
“Of course, the decision of the appeal committee will be binding on us. We could not have election for one week without giving people the result. What will be my explanation to our party members today if the results have not been released? So, we have played our part but we will respect the decision of the Appeal Committee”.
In a related development, Hon. Akinwunmi Bayode, chairmanship aspirant of the APC in Iru/Victoria Island LCDA, has petitioned the State Appeal Committee on Local Government Election over alleged fraudulent manipulations in the just concluded direct primaries held across the state.
In the petition, Bayode alleged electoral malpractices, intimidation and oppression of his loyalists, saying evidence abound that he defeated Rasheeda Adu, the incumbent chairman of Iru/Victoria Island LCDA in the controversial primary.
While calling for a cancellation of the primary and a fresh election, he said he will do everything possible to get justice and may take legal action if his petition was not acted upon.
further, Bayode said it was wrong for the APC leadership in the state led by Alhaji Tunde Balogun to release the name of alleged winners when the Appeal Committee was yet to submit its report.