A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Babatunde Ogala, has said the Form 18 ‘Letter of Withdrawal’ attached to the expression of interest and nomination form of the All Progressives Congress to be signed by aspirants is wrong, if compulsory.
The letter, which had to be signed before a Commissioner of Oath/Public Notary before submission, stated, “I hereby voluntarily withdraw my candidacy from the contest. My withdrawal is in the best interest of our great party, the All Progressives Congress.”
This had caused discomfort among aspirants who were unwilling to sign the letter on the grounds that it could be a move to enforce a consensus candidate on them.
The PUNCH gathered that it may be the party’s way of preventing litigation from members.
Speaking to The PUNCH, Ogala said if the portion of the form must be signed by aspirants, then it was tantamount to asking them to withdraw from a contest that had not even started.
He said, “That might be wrong. It might lead to a lot of problems including litigation because you can’t ask a man to withdraw from a process that you have not even started. I don’t know if that can be said to be illegal or not being cohesive.
“I haven’t seen the form and I’m not an officer of the party, but if it says aspirants should sign such a portion in the form, then why ask them to buy the form for a contest that requires them to sign that they have withdrawn from the contest?
“But if it is voluntary, aspirants will have a choice to sign or not to sign. I don’t think it can be made compulsory that you must sign that you have withdrawn. I’ve not seen the form and I’m not an aspirant, these are just conjectures.”
When asked if the withdrawal letter could be the party’s way of preventing litigation from aspirants, Ogala said, “You can have a provision that says aspirants will abide by the decision of the party, that’s different from asking them to withdraw. They are two different things. If the party wants to avoid litigation, it can ask aspirants to abide by an undertaken and not go to court. That’s different from asking them to withdraw. Withdrawal means the aspirant is not in the contest. How can you ask a man to withdraw from a contest he has not even entered after you have collected money from him? After collecting the form, you ask him to sign that he has withdrawn. I don’t think that’s correct.”
See picture of the withdrawal letter below: