A coalition of 25 Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, under the aegis of Grassroots Democracy Forum (GDF) on Thursday called on the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos State to cancel its recently conducted primaries ahead of the July 22 council polls in the state as it was fraught with violence and imposition.
The coalition, which was convened by the Director-General of Immaculate Initiative for Peace, Mr. Mutiu Bankole, blamed the party for electoral violence which erupted after the announcement of results as the outcome did not reflect the will of the party’s delegates.
Addressing a news conference in Ikeja on Thursday, the coalition rejected the list of chairmanship and councillorship candidates the APC submitted to the State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC), describing it as a charade and mockery of democracy.
Bankole, who addressed the news conference alongside the secretary of the coalition, Mr. Nelson Ekujimi, said the APC scheduled its primaries to choose its candidates for the forthcoming elections into 20 Local Government Areas (LGAs) and 37 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs).
According to him, the party was expected to comply with democratic norms and practices in the conduct of the exercise, lamenting that the reverse was the case as there were no guidelines for the exercise.
“The party delegates were drawn from the ward executives across the 57 councils in the state. The party delegates convened at the venue, Teslim Balogun Stadium in Surulere only to receive the shock of their lives when the Chairman of the APC Primaries Committee, Sen. Tokunbo Afikuyomi started announcing the names of chairmanship candidates who were hand-picked.
“Consequently, party members were provoked due to the violation of the party’s constitution. The flag bearers were announced without conduct of primaries. Violence broke out eventually and the delegates fled the venue for dear lives,” he said.
He stated that the same thing happened when the APC conducted its local government councillorship primaries across all councils in the state, as aggrieved candidates had to stage protests; petitioned the electoral commission and felt shortchanged by the alleged electoral fraud.
Bankole called on the public to prevail on the leadership of the APC in Lagos to retrace its anti-democratic and unconstitutional steps because of the danger posed to its nascent democracy.
He appealed to the party to ensure that the anomalies perpetuated against democracy by hand-picking candidates rather than through fairly conducted primaries should be corrected.
“We want to serve notice that if our patriotic call is not heeded, we will be joining forces with other progressive interests both within and outside the party to pursue other legitimate and civilized means of seeking justice against this assault on democracy and societal peace,” he stated.