Ondo 2024: Police arrest two APC members over printing of fake membership cards

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Police detectives in Ondo state, have arrested two members of the All Progressive Congress, for printing fake membership cards ahead of the Saturday’s governorship primary election.

A statement by the state police commands spokesperson, Funmi Odunlami, in Akure, gave the name of one of the suspect as Ariyo Ajiroba.

The statement read that “On Wednesday, 17th April, 2024, the Police received an intel that one Mr Ariyo, a transporter in Ondo town was registering APC Party members at his residence ahead of the party primaries slated for 20th of April, 2024.

“Police personnel from Yaba Divisional Headquarters led by an Assistant Superintendent of Police visited the house and recovered the following items from the scene, APC party’s registration booklets, list of names of purported party members of ward 7 Ondo, 53 passport photographs of different individuals, jotter containing with names, two exercise books with names and phone numbers of people and two slips of a registered form.

“Two suspects have been arrested and are assisting the Police with necessary information to apprehend others involved in this cynicism.

“The Commissioner of police, Abayomi Oladipo, admonishes all political aspirants to caution their supporters whose acts can stir the hornet’s nest in the state.

Odunlami added that “The CP also ordered total clamp down on incendiaries no matter whose ox is gored, as the Command has spread its tentacles to all nooks and crannies of the State to ensure safety of lives and property and peaceful conduct of the party primaries in the State.”

Recall that that seven of the governorship aspirants have raised the alarm over the printing of fake membership cards.

The governorship aspirants include Olusola Oke, Wale Akinterinwa, Diran Iyantan, Dayo Faduyile, Gbenga Edema, Jimi Odimayo and Senator Jimoh Ibrahim.

They warned that “the development might hamper the outcome of the shadow election on April 20.”

In a petition letter addressed to the national chairman of the party, Umar Ganduje, the aspirants said “despite paying N300 million into the coffers of the party to cover the annual dues of all party members, the exercise was not transparent to our satisfaction, as most of the genuine party members could not revalidate their membership cards.

Their letter reads, “We, the undersigned, are aspirants from the South senatorial district of Ondo State who have collected forms to participate in the forthcoming Ondo State gubernatorial primary election slated for April 20, 2024.

“We have noticed some issues of concern in respect of the said primary election, which, if not resolved quickly, may hinder the smooth running of the primary and may be detrimental to a free, fair, credible, and acceptable election.

“One of the issues is the revalidation of the membership register to be used for the primary election.

“While we commend the position of the party to revalidate the existing membership register, which is the certified true copies, as certified by INEC, and based on this directive of the party, as aspirants, we have paid over N300 million to the coffers of the party to cover the annual dues of all party members whose names appear on the register.

“Unfortunately, the exercise was shrouded in so much secrecy that a lot of our party members, especially our numerous supporters, could not have their membership cards revalidated before the committee that came from the headquarters left Ondo State for Abuja.

“We have been inundated by reports that a particular aspirant has gone ahead with massive printing of fake party slips, which he has distributed to a lot of people who are not even our party members.

“The intention of this aspirant is to corrupt the integrity of the membership register on the day of the primary by making the accreditation of party members impossible as non-party members have already been recruited to flood the venues of the primary election that day.

“This massive and pervasive production of the membership cards will certainly precipitate a situation where everyone holding membership cards, notwithstanding that their names are not on the register, will be allowed to vote without accreditation. Voting without accreditation remains illegal and unacceptable.

“Mr. Chairman should note that Section 77(2)(3) of the Electoral Act, 2022, makes it mandatory for all political parties to have a credible membership register, which must be submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and certified by it, not later than 30 days before the Congress.

“To avoid any legal or constitutional conundrum, we advise that the party make accreditation of party members mandatory at the election venue and that every member of the party whose name appears on the membership register already certified by INEC should be allowed to vote once he or she is able to present his or her membership slip for accreditation.

“It is therefore our prayer that the leadership of the party make available to us the membership register already validly certified by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, as the only lawful register to be used by the party for the conduct of the primary election slated for April 20, 2024. No other register can lawfully be used for the said election.”

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