The embattled seven National Assembly candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ekiti State have dismissed their suspension by the National Working Committee (NWC) for alleged anti-party activities.
The senatorial candidates–Lateef Ajijola(Ekiti Central) and Funsho Ayeni(Ekiti North), alongside five House of Representatives candidates; Yinka Akerele (Ekiti North I), Babatunde Ajayi (Ekiti North II), Lere Olayinka (Ekiti Central II), Joju Fayose (Ekiti Central I) and Mrs Emiola Adenike Jennifer (Ekiti South II)–who are all loyalists of former Governor Ayodele Fayose, had rejected the composition of the Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) in the state over the inclusion of some people who worked for the Social Democratic Party (SDP) during the last governorship election.
Aside rejecting the PCC list, the candidates also shunned the presidential campaign rally of the party held last Tuesday in Ado Ekiti, a development which did not go down well with the national leadership of the party including the presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
Only Senator Biodun Olujimi contesting for a third term in Ekiti South and Henrich Akomolafe, vying for a seat in the House of Representatives (Ekiti South I) attended the presidential rally and received the party’s flag from the national chairman, Dr Iyorchia Ayu.
On Friday, the party through its National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, announced the suspension of the seven candidates in line with the party’s constitution over allegations of anti-party activities.
However, the seven candidates in a joint statement on Saturday dismissed their suspension, describing it as a distraction.
They said they would continue to reach out to voters in their various constituencies so as to emerge victorious in the elections.
The candidates, who noted that the suspension will have no effect whatsoever on their candidacy, said: “Our concern now is how to win elections and we will not be distracted.”
While describing the party’s action as unfortunate and unguided, they said by the Constitution of the PDP, the purported suspension is null and void because none of them was informed of committing any offence.
”We were never informed of any wrongdoing. They didn’t tell us our offence so that we can defend ourselves as provided by the party’s constitution and the constitution of Nigeria.
“Section 57 (6) of the PDP constitution is clear and unambiguous. It states that ‘Any decision taken against a member who has not been informed of the charges against him or has not been given any opportunity of defending himself shall be null and void.’
“Also, Section 33 of the Electoral Act is very clear on candidates for elections and as it is, we remain candidates in line with law and we shall remain focused. Our party is a constitutional institution and we will ensure it obeys its constitution.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Section 33 of the Electoral Act provides clearly that, ‘A political party shall not be allowed to change or substitute its candidate whose name has been submitted under Section 29 of this Act, except in the case of death or withdrawal by the candidate.’
“We are therefore unperturbed. Rather, we are being propelled to work harder to ensure victory in the elections while we explore appropriate means of handling the issues. Ultimately, it will be victory for us as candidates of the PDP,’’ the statement read.
They called on members and supporters of the party in the state to remain calm, assuring them that ”nothing will be left undone to ensure our deserved victory in the forthcoming elections.”