Group warns INEC against substitution of names of elected candidates –

Primaries: INEC insists on June 3

From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

The Abuja School of Social and Political Thoughts has warned the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) not to take the country back to the days when impunity reigned supreme by substituting the names of legitimately elected candidates in the just concluded political parties primaries with those that did not participate in the process.

In a statement by its Director, Dr. Sam Amadi, the group advised INEC to ensure its actions are guided by the Electoral Act to avoid external manipulations by anti-democratic elements.

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It also urged INEC to reject fraudulent and false submission of candidates by the parties.

The warning followed the controversy surrounding the submission of the names of Senate President, Ahmad Lawan and former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, which surreptitiously appeared on INEC portals as senatorial candidates of the party when they did not participate in the primaries that produced the party’s candidates.

According to the group, for anyone to emerge as a candidate based on the provisions of the Electoral Act, the person must have participated in a primary election.

It stressed that an aspirant must have purchased the expression of interest form for the senatorial election and screened, adding that by the provisions of Section 33 of the 2022 Electoral Act, a political party cannot remove or substitute a candidate that emerged from a valid primary.

The group also stated that the person must be on the list of contestants sent by a political party  to INEC and must have participated in the senatorial election on the 27th of May when the election was conducted.

“It is being reported that some high-profile politicians who did not win INEC- monitored primaries of their parities are being submitted by their party leaders, in clear violation of the provisions of the electoral law.

“Two notable cases are those of the President of the Senate and the former Minister of Niger Delta Affair, who contested for the APC Presidential Primary and lost, but are making frantic efforts to regain senate seats from the winners of the primaries.

“The winners of the duly conducted primaries have refused to give up their tickets. Notwithstanding, the party reportedly has uploaded the Senate President and the Minister of Niger Delta as senatorial candidates, although they did not participate in a valid primary.

“Submitting names of persons who did not win duly conducted primaries on INEC portals is contrary to the electoral law. The electoral law requires that only persons who won duly conducted primaries should be submitted as candidates.

“It is INEC that determines what is a duly conducted primary, based on its guidelines and the electoral law. The practice in the past where INEC allowed parties to make wrong and fraudulent entries and hoped that the courts will reverse them has gone with the new Electoral Act which now empowers INEC to reverse such fraudulent and wrong actions by the parties.

“Section 84 (1) of the Electoral Act, 2022 provides that “A political party seeking to nominate candidates for elections under this Act shall hold primaries for the aspirants to all elective positions which shall be monitored by the Commission.”

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