The All Progressives Congress said on Tuesday that it would never allow an ex-convict vie for office on its platform, saying both the Nigerian law and its own constitution prohibit election of persons found guilty of criminal offences.
The disclosure effectively sealed the prospects of Joshua Dariye, a Nigerian senator from Plateau State who was recently reported to have obtained Senate nomination forms for 2019.
A copy of the form purportedly obtained by Mr Dariye, apparently through his loyalists, has been circulating on the internet since last weekend, and later made its way into dozens of media outlets by Monday morning.
PREMIUM TIMES did not report on the form because Mr Dariye has been in prison since he was convicted on July 12 and no one has openly claimed a purchase on his behalf.
The APC also remained silent on the reports since weekend, until Tuesday afternoon when its spokesperson eventually told PREMIUM TIMES the party’s position following enquiries.
First, Yekini Nabena said he has not been able to confirm that a form was purchased for Mr Dariye, saying perusal of a list of aspirants who have paid for forms from Plateau State turned up no information.
“I have gone to the list for Plateau State, I did not see his name,” Mr Nabena said. But if somebody has managed to collect the form for him, he will be screen out. There is no way he can contest on our platform.”
“Somebody who has been convicted does not have a right to contest on our platform,” Mr Nabena emphasised, adding that he had been in touched with the party’s legal department on the matter.
Mr Dariye was Plateau State governor from 1999 to 2007. He was elected to the Senate from Plateau Central Senatorial District first in 2011 as a member of the Labour Party. He retained the seat in 2015 as a member of the APC.
On July 12, Mr Dariye was found guilty of 15 counts of fraud and breach of trust by the Gudu Division of the Federal Capital Territory High Court. He was subsequently transported to prisons in Kuje, a suburb south-east of Abuja city centre, where he is believed to have remained ever since.
The last two weeks have seen several Nigerian politicians claim their supporters were purchasing forms on their behalf. Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, a presidential aspirant in Peoples Democratic Party, appeared to have opened the season when he said on July 31 that his supporters paid N12 million to get him the party’s nomination form.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s loyalists followed suit a few days later on September 5, paying N45 million for the APC form on his behalf. Several governorship, senatorial and even local elections aspirants have since claimed similar gestures from their supporters.
The development has drawn criticism from political observers who called on the president and others to reject such humongous ‘donations’ because they contravene electoral laws.