By JIDE AJANI, Editor, Northern Operations, CLIFFORD NDUJIHE, BEN AGANDE, HENRY UMORU & OLA AJAYI
ABUJA—TWENTY-fours after the deadline for the submission of lists of candidates for the April polls, the polity and the National Headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC were awash with high wire intrigues and confusion, yesterday.
With a series of court orders flying from all directions, moves and counter moves, there were confusion over who were the authentic candidates of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Whereas the National Legal Adviser of the PDP, Chief Olusola Oke told Vanguard that any attempt by INEC to tamper with its list of candidates which met the Monday, January 31, deadline would be met with a stiff litigation, the electoral umpire said that a Court Order brought to it by the Obasanjo_faction of the PDP in Ogun State had forced the commission not to recognize the list the PDP sent from the state.
Review of list
Yet, the Ogun State Government which controls another faction of the party in the state speaking through its Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Sina Kawonise, said that INEC was not on solid ground in this latest move.
Still on the series of confusion trailing the candidacy of the parties, INEC said it was still reviewing the list of candidates sent in for Oyo State while the PDP categorically insisted that the Oyo State list was intact.
There were strong indications, yesterday, that Chief Great Ogboru’s Democratic Peoples Party, DPP, which gave the PDP a fierce competition at last month’s Delta State gubernatorial election, may not have met the deadline.
Interestingly, the PDP took a swipe at the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, and the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, over what it described as imposition of candidates.
Meanwhile, only 43 of the 63 registered political parties met the INEC’s deadline.
Why INEC can’t tamper with our list – PDP
Speaking with Vanguard, PDP National Legal Adviser, Oke, said that as a party, it would defend with all its strength any attempt to nullify its candidates without provision for replacement and denied reports that the commission, Monday, rejected its list of candidates from Oyo State including that of Governor Adebayo Alao_Akala.
His words: “I read with a profound shock this morning (Tuesday) the publication that INEC rejected PDP’s lists in Oyo, Anambra, and so on. I want to inform you that, that is not correct. I was personally in INEC yesterday (Monday) in company of the National Chairman, Secretary and others who went to deliver our nomination papers to INEC and INEC at no time informed us that they were rejecting our papers from Oyo State.
“The only indication we got was that they had issues with our returns from Anambra State. We are still waiting for the details of the issues they have and at the moment, we have submitted all our papers, they are in the custody of INEC, I want to assume that one by one, they will go through the list and get it incidented on their record.
“We are sure on our part that INEC cannot decree no candidate for a political party. Whatever issue they have, we will try to sort it out with them; we know that it is only the National Secretariat that can nominate candidates and submit names of candidates to INEC and when that submission has been made, if they have any issue, they will raise it with us to clarify it.
“I trust that at the end of the day, we will be able to remove whatever doubts they have in their minds, but I can say categorically in the case of Oyo that there is no rejection, INEC has accepted and will not have any basis to reject our list. If they raise any issue with Anambra, we will get the details and be able to give appropriate reaction.”
On what the party would do if INEC goes ahead to reject any of its lists, Oke said: “With Anambra, if INEC goes ahead, I know that the party, even at pre_nomination, they (aspirants) were already in Court. So they will all return to court and get a final nod from the court. I want to trust that INEC is conscious of provisions of section 31 which forbids it from rejecting or turning down any nomination submitted to it by political parties. But if it does, those that are affected directly, the candidates, will go to court and the court will make a pronouncement on the power of INEC to refuse or whether the circumstances for rejecting are justifiable enough.”
INEC deepens confusion over Oyo, Ogun, Anambra
The commission’s Director of Public Affairs, Mr Emmanuel Umenger told reporters that the commission was compelled by court rulings to recognize the Benjamin Udeazor faction of the PDP in Anambra State; and the Bashiru Dayo Soremi (Obasanjo) faction of the party in Ogun State. He said the commission had no choice in the interim but to accept the names submitted by the recognised factions.
A source at the commission said that contrary to yesterday’s position of the commission rejecting nominations from Oyo State, the commission was set to review the case on its merit. The source, however, did not disclose whether the review was necessitated by an appeal by the Oyo State chapter of the party or as a result of new information in INEC’s possession.
The conference hall of the INEC was a beehive of activities up to late yesterday as political parties were seen working with staff of the commission to sort out names of their candidates.
Special Adviser to Governor Akala on Media, Mr. Dotun Oyelade, said the INEC’s refutal of Akala’s disqualification showed the toxic state of mind of the opposition the governor was grappling with.
Ogun PDP chides INEC
Leader of the Daniel faction of the PDP in Ogun State, Kawonise, said in an interview with Vanguard, faulted the INEC. He said: “The primaries were conducted by the Ogun State PDP under the supervision of PDP headquarters at all levels – from ward to governorship.
The primaries were monitored at all levels. The list compiled and sent to Wadata Plaza, our party secretariat. All the candidates were ratified by the National Working Committee, NWC, and the National Executive Committee, NEC, of the party. PDP’s brief was simply to submit the list and meet the deadline which it did.
“For us, there is no issue and even at the risk of sounding prejudicial, the PDP was not joined in the suite and we do not see how individuals can jump into a process after conclusion and hope to benefit from it.”
43 parties meet deadline
At the end of the submission of candidates’ list by parties on Monday, 43 political parties met the 6 p.m deadline set by INEC. While the Democratic Peoples Party, DPP, reportedly did not meet the deadline and may not participate in the forth coming elections nationwide, the Fresh Democratic Party of Rev. Chris Okotie submitted the name of only one candidate for polls nationwide: that of Rev. Chris Okotie for the presidential election.
However, leaders of the DPP faulted reports that they did not submit a list of candidates to the commission. DPP National Chairman, Lt. Gen. Jeremaiah Useni said on phone that the party met the deadline. “The report is not correct. We submitted the list yesterday (Monday).”
On speculations that INEC rejected the DPP list, he said: No! No!! No!!!. Who is telling you that?” and hung up.
Opponents move against Akala with court order
The foundation of Governor Alao_Akala’s second term bid became shaky, yesterday, as a Federal High Court, in Ibadan nullified the results of the state congress that voted him as the PDP flagbearer.
The state congress of the party that was held between Dec 29 and Dec 31, 2010, was a controversial one with two factions within the party having parallel congresses, but the national secretariat of the party recognised the faction of the state governor.
Dissatisfied with the decision of the national body, the aggrieved aspirants filed a suit praying the court to nullify the election and restrain Akala from parading himself as the party’s governorship candidate for the election.
The aspirants challenging the results of the state congress in the suit marked FHC/IB/CS/2/2011 are the former Deputy Governor in the 11 months illegal reign, Mr. Hazeem Gbalorumi, Elder Wole Oyelese, former Minister of Power and Steel and Yekeen Adeojo, the former National Deputy Chairman of the party in the South West, and 34 others including Senator Lekan Balogun.
The respondents are INEC, the PDP, the party state chairman, Chief Dejo Afolabi and the state governor, Adebayo Alao_Akala. Mr. Folorunso Lana, a former Attorney Generaland Commissioner for Justice who was removed in controversial circumstances is holding brief for the plaintiffs.
The court nullified results for the state House of Assembly, the House of Representative, and the three senatorial seats and the governorship primary election pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice before the it.
Justice Johnson Shakarho restrained the party and the state governor, Adebayo Alao-Akala from presenting any candidate of the party to the INEC based on the results of the congress.
But the court struck out the prayer by the aggrieved chieftains of the PDP which prayed the court to restrain INEC from receiving, accepting or in any way acting upon any nomination of any person or persons for any election purportedly elected at the congress. He said this had been overtaken by event. The matter has been adjourned to Feb. 10 for hearing on the substantive matter.
But responding to the ruling, Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala said through his Special Adviser on Public Communication, Prince Dotun Oyelade that it would be an exercise in futility.
Meanwhile, the governor described as false a report that Akala’s ambition had been rejected by INEC.
He said it was a continuation of the serial desperation of the opponents to plant confusion when they could not succeed through legitimate means. Akala said the national headquarters of the PDP successfully submitted the list of PDP candidates whose names were submitted by the national headquarters of the party.
“As a matter of fact, INEC has issued acknowledgment receipt to all our candidates whose names were submitted by the headquarters of the party”, he said.
PARTIES THAT MET THE DEADLINE
1. Accord A
2. Action Congress of Nigeria ACN
3. Allied Congress party of Nigeria ACPN
4. Alliance for Democracy AD
5. African Liberation Party ALP
6. All Nigeria Peoples Party ANPP
7. All Progressives Grand Alliance APGA
8. Action Party of Nigeria APN
9. African Political System APS
10. African Renaissance Party ARP
11. Better Nigeria Progressive Party BNPP
12. Change Advocacy Party CAP
13. Congress for Democratic Change CDC
14. Congress for Progressive Change CPC
15. Community Party of Nigeria CPN
16. Citizens Popular Party CPP
17. Democratic People’s Alliance DPA
18. Fresh Democratic Party FDP
19. Hope Democratic Party HDP
20. Kowa Party KP
21. Labour Party LP
22. Movement for Democracy MDJ
23. Mega Progressive Peoples Party MPPP
24. Movt for the Restn and Def of Demo MRDD
25. National Conscience Party NCP
26. New Nigeria Peoples Party NNPP
27. Nat Movt of Progressive Party NMPP
28. National Reformation Party NRP
29. National Solidarity Democratic Party NSDP
30. National Transformation Party NTP
31. People for Democratic Change PDC
32. Peoples Democratic Party PDP
33. Peoples Mandate Party PMP
34. Progressive Peoples Alliance PPA
35. Peoples Party of Nigeria PPN
36. Peoples Progressive Party PPP
37. Peoples Redemption Party PRP
38. Peoples Salvation Party PSP
39. Republican Party of Nigeria RPN
40. Social Democratic Mega Party SDMP
41. United Democratic Party UDP
42. United Natnal Party For Devt UNPD
43. United Nigeria People’s Party UNPP
Parties that did not meet the deadline
1. Action Alliance AA
2. Advanced congress of Democrats ACD
3. African Democratic Congress ADC
4. Dem Front for Peoples Federation DFPF
5. Democratic Peoples Party DPP
6. Freedom Party of Nigeria FPN
7. Justice Party JP
8. Liberal Democratic Party of Nigeria LDPN
9. Masses Movement of Nigeria MMN
10. National Action Council NAC
11. Nigeria Advanced Party NAP
12. New Democrats ND
13. National Democratic Liberty Party NDLP
14. National Democratic Party NDP
15. Nigeria Elements Progressive party NEPP
16. National Majority Democratic Party NMDP
17. Nigeria Peoples Congress NPC
18. National Unity Party NUP
19. Progressive Action Congress PAC