A Senatorial aspirant of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has recounted how he was forced to sign the party’s withdrawal letter inserted into his Expression of Interest and Nomination Forms by the party’s leadership. The aspirant, who craved anonymity, speaking with Saturday Telegraph, said it was a condition given to him before his filled forms could be collected. It could be recalled that at the beginning of sales of Nomination Forms by the APC, the media had raised concerns over the withdrawal letter included in the party’s Nomination Forms. Also, some of the aspirants had expressed worries over the withdrawal letter, while some said it was not an issue.
The voluntary withdrawal letter tagged Form 18, reads: “I hereby voluntarily withdraw my candidacy from the contest. My withdrawal is in the best interest of our great party, the All Progressives Congress.” A party source had described the withdrawal letter as an indemnity to prevent members from taking legal action against the party. Speaking officially on the withdrawal letter, the National Secretary of the party, Senator Iyiola Omisore, had said filling the form is optional, as the party has not decided on which option to use in picking its candidates. On his part, the APC National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Felix Morka, had argued that the measure was in tandem with the party’s constitution and the Electoral Amendment Act 2022. He explained that aspirants are obliged to fill the withdrawal sheet if they decide to withdraw from the race on their own volition.
“Yes, the sheet is part of the form. Our constitution and the Electoral Act recognise three modes for the election of our candidates – direct, indirect and consensus. “Now, the aspirants are not required as they complete the form to fill that page. The page is there only for those who make the decision at some point to withdraw from the race.” However, some of the aspirants did not sign the withdrawal letter and their nomination forms were not rejected.
A governorship aspirant from Bauchi State, Dr. Musa Babayo, responding to questions on the voluntary withdrawal letter, said he did not sign it. According to him, the party said it was not compulsory. Another presidential aspirant, Senator Ahmed Sani Yerima, said he did not sign the letter. Asked why he did not sign it, he said he did not consider it important. He however said if the party asks him tomorrow to sign, he will because he is a loyal party man. The Senatorial aspirant responding to the question on whether he signed the letter, said, ‘‘yes l did.
“When l came to submit the form, they insisted that if l didn’t sign they would not collect my forms, then l signed. But l tell you that this thing has no effect. I am a lawyer, when we get to the bridge we will cross it. They made it a condition for collecting the forms and if you didn’t do it they will find a flimsy excuse to disqualify you at the submission.”