A man claiming to be the original governorship candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in Lagos has alleged that the recognised candidate, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, and the party’s executives submitted a fake withdrawal letter to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Mr Awamaridi alleged that at no point in time did he tender a letter to withdraw his candidature to the electoral umpire.
He spoke to journalists at Primal Hotel in Ikeja on Thursday.
He said that he is the “original” flag bearer of the party, adding that the party submitted “forged documents to INEC.”
On Saturday, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Olajide Adediran, Mr Rhodes-Vivour and others will jostle for the governorship seat.
But Mr Awamaridi accused some executive members of the party at the national level of removing his name and organising a substitution primary election.
In August, some members of the party leadership conducted a substitution primary election in which Mr Rhodes-Vivour emerged as the gubernatorial candidate of the party.
Mr Rhodes-Vivour, who defected from the PDP, defeated Moshood Salvador, who joined the party from the APC.
At that time, Mr Awamaridi was the one recognised by INEC but it was later updated to reflect Mr Rhodes-Vivour as the party’s choice.
“I have never withdrawn my candidature,” he said.
“We asked INEC then and we have documentary evidence, if they can give us the evidence that I have withdrawn.
“There is a procedure which must be followed. Two things have to be done. There must be a withdrawal letter on oath submitted to INEC by the party.
“There is what we call Form 11 B for governorship candidates, the picture of the person withdrawing on one side, his name and signature on the paper. And there must be a picture of the replacement, name and signature.
“There was no time that I withdrew and there was no time that I filled the Form 11B.”
According to the section 31 of the Electoral Act 2022, 31, “a candidate may withdraw his or her candidature by notice in writing signed by him and delivered personally by the candidate to the political party that nominated him for the election and the political party shall convey such withdrawal to the Commission not later than 90 days to the election.”
Mr Awamaridi further said that the withdrawal letter with INEC is fake, adding that the name written on the letter — Fagbemi Awamaridi is not his own.
“Chinedu Rhodes-Vivour is not and never will be the candidate. I am the original candidate,” he said.
“They wrote Fagbemi Awamaridi instead of Ifagbemi Awamaridi.”
PREMIUM TIMES made several attempts to contact the party for response, but the telephone number of Sam Okpala, LP’s party secretary in the state, was unreachable.
However, on Monday, the legal team of Mr Rhodes-Vivour said its client remains the party’s authentic flag bearer in the state.
The lead lawyer, Olagbade Benson, said that three court cases instituted against his candidacy recently were struck out, adding that Mr Awamaridi’s claim is false.
Many phone calls to the INEC spokespersons in the state, Nike Oriowo, and the national level, Festus Okoye, for reaction on the matter, were unanswered. (Premium Times)