Senator Joshua Dariye, who is currently serving a 14-year jail term over financial misdeeds while serving as governor of Plateau state in the Middle Belt region of Nigeria, has picked an All Prorgessives Congress (APC) nomination form to contest next year’s election.
“Yes, Sen. Dariye has picked a nomination form to seek a third term. It is true. He is among those jostling for the APC ticket in Plateau Central,’’ Mr Chindo Dafat, APC Publicity Secretary in Plateau, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), on Tuesday in Jos.
Dafat said that Dariye has filled the form and submitted to the party.
“His (Dariye)’s ward secretary came and signed the form on his behalf. It has been filled and his supporters are already campaigning ahead of the party primary election,’’ he said.
According to him, Dariye will battle with three others – Zakari Dimka, Sam Piwuna and Manji Pompori – for the APC ticket.
The party official said that Dariye was “still very popular and relevant in Plateau Central in spite of his current ordeals’’, adding that the former governor “can win the primary elections from the prison’’.
He said that Dariye had appealed his conviction and could have it upturned “because we are praying for him’’.
“Aside possible success in the appeal, we are also praying for a state pardon. That is another possibility.
“Dariye is very important to our party, unfortunately, this happened to him. It is not that we cannot win elections without him; we can win without him, but he has done a lot and is well loved by his people.
“Somebody could be in the hospital or prison and pick a nomination from from there. We have no right to deny anyone a nomination form. Even INEC cannot stop Dariye from contesting the 2019 elections.
“There is no law that stops him from buying the form. Whoever comes for the nomination form can get it. I see it as a constitutional matter. Only the court can disqualify him.
“If Dariye wins elections from prison, he will not be the first Nigerian to do that. Iyiola Omisore, from Osun, once won a senate seat while in prison,’’ Dafat pointed out
But the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has described the development as “shocking, strange and embarrassing’’.
“It is shocking that a convict serving a 14-year jail term will be given a nomination form to contest an election. This is just ridiculous,’’ Mr Ben Shignugul, PDP Vice Chairman (Plateau Central), told NAN.
“The nomination form has a portion which requests aspirants to state whether they were once convicted; I wonder what information Dariye provided in that column.
“He (Dariye) is our illustrious son and we sympathise with him. We expect him to be sober and reflect on what has happened to him, instead of allowing himself to be dragged around by desperate politicians,’’ he said.
Shignugul said that the Plateau PDP executive council, led by its chairman, Damishi Sango, recently visited Dariye in Kuje prisons and prayed for him.
“We still pray that he will serve out his 14-year jail term and come out in good health.
“Dariye should equally be praying, instead of attracting unnecessary attention to himself,’’ Shignugul said.
The PDP official, however, said that the party was not afraid of facing Dariye, or any other APC candidate, in the 2019 general elections.
“Dariye cannot be a threat to us because people in the zone are already fed up with him after eight years as governor and two terms in the senate,’’ Shignugul claimed.
But, section 107 sub-section 1 (d) of the Nigeria Constitution 1999 as amended, states that no person shall be qualified for election if, within a period of less than 10 years before the date of election, he has been convicted and sentenced for an offence involving dishonesty.
It also states that anyone that has been found guilty of contravening the code of conduct shall not be allowed to contest election. (NAN)