By Amuda Dan Sulaiman Fab
Senator Smart Adeyemi, who represents Kogi West in the National Assembly, has offered to sponsor five persons to Makkah, Saudi Arabia, on hajj pilgrimage for returning the cash he gave out to delegates during the All Progressives Congress (APC) primary in the senatorial zone.
Adeyemi’s return bid to the Senate was short lived when he scored 43 votes at the primary election, putting him at a distant third.
Speaking with journalists at the National Assembly in Abuja on the outcome of the primary held May 28, 2022, Adeyemi described the election as complete rape of democracy, a day-light robbery and an extremely manipulated exercise.
The lawmaker said he participated in the primary against the advice of the state’s APC chairman, Abdullahi Bello, who, he said, asked him to step down and work fully for the presidential bid of Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State.
He said a closed door meeting, called by the state’s party chairman at the instance of the governor, to pressure him to withdraw from the race, was deadlocked as he insisted on going ahead.
Adeyemi alleged that delegates were coerced to vote against their choices, except insignificant few.
He said five among the delegates from Koton Karfe local government area returned the money he gave out for “transport, accommodation and feeding” expenses after they voted against him.
The lawmakers said he was moved by their honesty and asked them to go with the money with a promise to sponsor them to Makkah on hajj pilgrimage in 2023.
He said: “Normally, we give some supports to delegates to augment their expenses, transport, feeding and accommodations. But don’t ask me how much.
“Delegates from a particular local government, which is predominantly inhabited by Muslims, were not allowed to vote for me because the returning officer, who is from that local government and equally a Muslim asked, them to support Sunday Karimi, who is from a neighbouring federal constituency to mine.
“This local government is called Koton Karfe. A week after the election, five of them came to Abuja and they are all Muslims. They said to me that in Islam, it is haram (prohibited) to take what does not belong to you.
“So, senator, the money you gave for feeding, accommodation and transport to support us, we have returned all your money because we were not allowed to vote for you. But you are our candidate. They bust into tears, that they had been denied. But please, take our photographs for record purposes and future.
“This is your money. I look at them and said you have endeared Islam to my heart even though I’m a Christian. You returned the money? Please go with the money. I have blessed this money for you. They started crying and I assured them that next year, the five of you, I will send you to Makkah. If your faith in Islam is like this, then you have made me to respect Islam the more.
“I have sponsored not less than 400 Muslims to Makkah. But for five Muslims to return the money I gave to them back to me and said it is haram, I was moved emotionally.
“I never new we still have Nigerians like these people. They returned money and said they were denied to vote for me. I took their pictures.”