The imprisoned former governor of Plateau State, Joshua Dariye, has denied asking his followers to dump the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The current occupant of Plateau Central in the Senate is serving a 14-year jail term handed down by an Abuja Federal High Court following his conviction on a N1.6 billion ecological funds misappropriated when he was governor between 1999 and 2007.
Meanwhile, the state chapter of the APC has claimed oblivion of the threat by Dariye’s supporters to defect in protest of their principal’s incarceration.
According to its secretary, Alhaji Bashir Sati, the speculation is a figment of some people’s imagination.
“The party is not aware of such threat. Just last week, we rounded off our local government tour. We were in Bokkos, which is the council area of the former governor. What the people told us was that they are missing him and we assured them that all hope is not lost,” he said.
It was, however, learnt that the sentencing may not have gone down well with majority of his followers who thought he could have been given a soft landing.
But, a dependable source close to the senator on condition of anonymity said Dariye had directed his key associates to move round the state, especially the central senatorial district, to enlighten followers on his predicament and why they should remain in APC.
His words: “When I met him recently along with two other people, this issue was tabled. He strongly condemned the insinuation that the present administration was behind his predicament and has done nothing to help him out of the situation.
“He stated that the matter was dated to when he was the governor of the state and directed his close associates to enlighten his followers and remain in APC.
“You cannot rule out the possibility that some of his followers were annoyed by the judgment, but the fact still remains that the APC government has nothing to do with his travail.”
The source added that the political structure of the incarcerated senator remains intact, adding that the defection rumour was diversionary and a ploy to cause confusion within the party in the state.
Besides, Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu has refuted speculations that some members of the State Executive Council (SEC) were planning to either resign from his cabinet or defect to other parties in Ondo.
In a statement yesterday in Akure by the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Yemi Olowolabi, the governor attributed the report to the handiwork of his political enemies.
He stated: “We find it imperative to set the record straight due to the sensitive nature of the report, as it borders on the unity and cordial working relationship between the governor and his cabinet members.
“While we are convinced that the said story was planted by enemies of this government who have resorted to cheap blackmail to distract a performing governor and his officials, it is also instructive to quickly open the eyes of the public to see the nakedness of the falsehood.”