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NIGERIAN HIGH COMMISSIONER TO AUSTRALIA FACES DISQUALIFICATION

By NBF News
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Indication emerged yesterday that the Nigerian High Commissioner to Australia, Professor Sunday Olu-Agbi, may not be allowed to participate in tomorrow's Senatorial primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party.

The screening committee of the party had earlier cleared Olu-Agbi, on December 31, 2010, alongside the incumbent, Senator Gbenga Ogunniya. Ogunniya is currently the Chairman, Senate Committee on Police Affairs.

But the party's appeal panel set up to tackle issues arising from the screening, told the nation's envoy to Australia yesterday that he might be barred from contesting the primaries.

The appeal panel based its reason on some allegations contained in a petition before it, adding that the petitioner had argued that Olu-Agbi had not resigned his appointment as the country's High Commissioner in Australia.

The petitioner, according to the panel, said since Olu-Agbi had not resigned his appointment, he could not contest any election in the country.

In the petition, written by the law firm of Messrs Wole Akindiose and Co. on behalf of one A.Y. Bola from ward nine, Ondo South West Local Government Area of the state, the petitioner also claimed that the letter of resignation, which Olu-Agbi claimed to have submitted, was not acknowledged.

The petitioner wondered how the ambassador, who claimed to have resigned his appointment since September 5 last year, would include in his letter, the January 5, 2011 date of the party's National Assembly primaries when the date had not been fixed as at that time.

In a swift reaction, Olu-Agbi, said he had resigned his appointment to the supervising ministry and notified the minister about it as at September 5, 2010 but that he delayed the submission when the date for the primaries was not fixed.

He said: 'I have updated the contents of the letter when the January 5 date for the primaries had been fixed' but that he retained the September 5, 2010 date.

Olu-Agbi argued that it was for aggrieved aspirant, who was not cleared, to petition the appeal panel and not for the committee to threaten any cleared candidate with disqualification.

'I am urging the party leadership to ignore the petition; I am ready to go to court if disqualified on the strength of the petition.'

Meanwhile, the primaries held throughout the state to elect candidates that would represent the PDP in the forthcoming House of Assembly election was held peacefully on yesterday.

The delegates were jointly screened by security agencies, party officials and representatives of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) at all the 18 local government areas of the state.

However, the voting did not start in some local governments visited by our correspondent until 2.30am. At Idanre in Idanre Local Government Area, voting did not start until the delegates were screened.

A chieftain of the party, Chief Alex Akinnadeju, said the primaries were peaceful but complained about the long period spent on screening of delegates.

Also a member of the House of Representatives, Jones Akinyugha, said all the contestants would abide by the outcome of the primaries because it was conducted in a peaceful manner.