“The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has responded to the alleged discriminatory stance against the candidates nominated by some political parties for the 2023 general elections.
At the close of the submission of the list of candidates by political parties on June 17, the ruling APC forwarded the names of some of its candidates who reportedly did not participate in its primaries and were therefore ineligible to be on the ballot in the general elections.
The names of the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan and a former minister of Niger Delta affair, Godswill Akpabio, who did not participate in the party’s senatorial primaries, reportedly made the list submitted to the INEC by the party.
While Messrs Lawan and Akpabio were pursuing their presidential ambitions, Bashir Machina and Udom Ekpoudom had participated in Yobe North and Akwa-Ibom Northwest senatorial primaries supervised by INEC and emerged winners.
However, in what many considered a double standard, the Akwa-Ibom INEC REC, Mike Igini, declared the inclusion of Mr Akpabio on the list as null and void while Mr Lawan’s ‘emergence’ remains valid despite the continuous resistance of the actual winner, Mr Machina.
INEC has no power to reject any name – Commissioner
In response to the widely discussed controversy which was recently taken further in writing by a lecturer, Farooq Kperogi, an INEC commissioner, Mohammed Haruna, argued that the electoral body has no power to reject the names of candidates sent by political parties.
He said the parties have the rights to hold primaries while INEC is empowered to monitor them to ensure full compliance with the rules and regulations of the land and party.
“INEC has no powers to reject names sent by political parties. Primaries are the sole prerogatives of parties. INEC’s responsibility is merely to monitor the primaries and make sure they abide by their own regulations, the Electoral Act & the Constitution.
“Our power in that regard rests on the fact that our reports are admissible as evidence whenever an aggrieved candidate petitions his party or the courts. It is therefore up to an aggrieved candidate to apply for the Certified True Copy (CTC) of our reports for presentation as evidence that his party did not abide by any or all of the three sets of regulations I mentioned,” the national commissioner noted.
Mr Haruna stated further that INEC has only accepted the names of the candidates as mandated by the 2022 Electoral Act but has yet to make its decision known.
He defended the commission’s acceptance of the names submitted by the APC quoting Section 29 (1).
A part of the section however shows a breach in the same act.
The sub-section states that the lists of the candidates the party proposed to sponsor at the election “must have emerged from valid primaries conducted by the political party.”
Neither Mr Akpabio nor Mr Lawan participated in the primaries conducted by their party.
INEC spokesperson, Festus Okoye, did not respond to calls and text messages sent to him by PREMIUM TIMES on Monday to comment on the matter.”