A Benue State governorship aspirant under the All Progressives Congress, Michael Aondoakaa, has disclosed that he did not sign the ‘Voluntary Letter of Withdrawal’ attached to the expression of interest and nomination forms before he submitted.
The former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice under late President Umaru Yar’Adua revealed this on Thursday while fielding questions at the International Conference Centre in Abuja.
Aondoakaa said that he left the letter of withdrawal unsigned after he sought clarification and considered its implication.
“Unfortunately, I did not sign and I sought clearance. The implication is two-way traffic. If you sign that agreement now and you win the election and the opponent comes to know that you signed the agreement, I can bet you, that your election will be invalidated.
“If you sign an agreement, you have withdrawn from the race. Assuming you win the election, you participate in the general election, the opposition party will file an action that you did not partake in the election. When that form is subpoenaed, you have withdrawn from the election. So you cannot be part of it.
“I think what the leadership of the party intended is to have that withdrawal in the case, at the time, of primaries people want to withdraw in compliance with the Electoral Act, they just fill in there and a Commissioner for Oaths will endorse it. It cannot be intended that you withdraw before you participate, it looks absurd because if you win the election, the election will be invalid,” he said.
The APC spokesman, Felix Morka, in an earlier interview with The PUNCH had denied any sinister motive regarding the withdrawal form and fresh guidelines imposed on the presidential, governorship and parliamentary aspirants ahead of the APC primaries for the 2023 elections.
In the controversial guidelines, aspirants contesting various offices were barred from seeking redress in court without first exhausting party avenues for resolution of their grievances. They were also mandated to sign an undertaking to accept the outcomes of the polls; take oaths not to engage in thuggery, anti-party activities and promoting factions, and support whoever emerged as a candidate for the general elections.
Political observers had also raised eyebrows over the voluntary letter of withdrawal contained on page 17 of the nomination form, which aspirants were expected to sign before a Commissioner for Oaths or a Notary Public.
While describing the controversial withdrawal letter as “just a Pro-forma document,” Morka said the party is not giving conditions or compelling any aspirant to withdraw.
According to the APC publicity secretary, the document is there to make provision for when an aspirant makes a personal decision to withdraw.
“That’s when they are required to execute it. The party didn’t create the withdrawal form, the Electoral Act did. It is evident that no aspirant was forced to do that. That answers any question regarding the imposition of candidates,” he noted.
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