As the race for Kogi State governorship election heats up, SaharaReporters has exclusively obtained an audio conversation of how Governor Yahaya Bello of the ruling All Progressives Congress offered and gave N5 million each to gubernatorial candidates and running mates of opposition political parties in the state.
Bello, it was gathered, gave the money to the candidates in a bid to get them to withdraw from the contest and endorse him.
Investigation further revealed that the governor was working with the Chairman of the Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Chief Peter Ameh, who was assigned to share the money for candidates who were disqualified on the basis of age limit.
The candidates disqualified were compelled not to contest their disqualification by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
INEC had disqualified some parties who nominated candidates for deputy governor below 35 years.
Some candidates who rejected the bribe insisted that a precedent had been set by the electoral body in Zamfara State where the deputy governor was 33 years old.
SaharaReporters had reported how former outspoken lawmaker, Natasha Akpoti, of the Social Democratic Party was disqualified by INEC on Monday, which was the deadline for the substitution of candidates.
The situation made Akpoti vowed not to leave the office of the INEC chairman until the commission accept the name of her running mate.
According to sources, all the political parties in the state who fielded candidates for the November 16, 2019, election collected the bribe from the governor except two candidates, Akpoti and APM Chairman, Yusuf Dantalle.
"The IPAC Chairman is obviously working for Yahaya Bello. He is warehousing some cash and those who collected money that they are not going to fight it but step down.
"The essence of paying them is for them to step down for Yahaya Bello. They (APM) joined Natasha who will not step down and who will not even buy into this N5million deal," the source said.
It was also gathered that the IPAC chairman, furious by the decision of Akpoti and the APM, called the APM chairman, and threatened him to either accept the bribe or "lose out on both ends".
"I know they cannot approach Natasha and that is why Natasha is crazy now because the whole thing is financed by Yahaya Bello. The IPAC has made itself a warehouse that is sharing the money for the parties," the source noted.
Aggrieved members of SDP and APM had staged a protest to the INEC headquarters demanding the reversal of the disqualification of their candidates.