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INEC dubs 2019 party primaries Nigeria’s most acrimonious

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Says 392 court cases pending, 52 petitions being addressed

302 requests for CTC means more cases likely in courts
Crunch time for Okorocha, Amosun as Kwara Gov retains Senatorial Seat
980 males, 88 females vie for 29 Governorship seats
805 male and 263 female Deputy Governorship candidates

By Omeiza Ajayi

ABUJA: The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC has vowed to ensure a religious adherence to its guidelines and schedule of activities for the 2019 general elections, saying it would not treat with levity, parties who violate the guidelines.

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu said this Friday in Abuja while declaring open a two-day capacity building workshop for members of the Commission’s Press Corps.

He described the recently concluded party primaries in the country as the most acrimonious in the history of Nigeria. He said it was glaring that internal democracy in the parties still remained a source of major concern. Absolutely worried about this, Yakubu said it was largely against this background that the commission has been joined in 396 pending cases in court. He disclosed that aside this, 302 requests for Certified True Copies (CTC) of documents mainly on the commission’s monitoring reports of party primaries have been made, adding quickly that ‘these requests are preludes to more court cases.

 Okorocha, Amosun and Oshiomhole
Okorocha, Amosun and Oshiomhole

Yakubu was not done. He said that 52 petitions from aggrieved party aspirants are with the commission. But the INEC boss assured that his commission would conduct a free, fair and credible elections.

He said; “In the next 77 days, Nigerians will go to the polls to elect their representatives in Government. Campaigns for Presidential and National Assembly elections started 12 days ago on 18th November 2018. Campaigns for Governorship and State Assembly elections begin tomorrow, December 1, 2018. We can say that the 2019 General Election is truly around the corner. Let me once again seize this opportunity to reassure the country that INEC is ready and committed to free, fair and credible elections.

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“You would recall that on 9th January 2018, the Commission released the timetable and schedule of activities for the 2019 General Elections. For the first time in our history, the date for General Election was announced over a year in advance. More specifically, the timetable lists fourteen (14) step-by-step constitutional and other legal and other statutory activities required of the Commission ahead of the elections beginning with the formal Publication of Notice and ending with the election day. So far, INEC has successfully implemented seven (7) out of the fourteen (14) activities strictly on schedule, including the conduct of party primaries for all elections and the processes of nomination of candidates. We did not, and will never, tolerate any breach of the strict time-lines provided for in the timetable for the elections”.

Crunch time for Okorocha, Amosun as Kwara Gov retains Senatorial Seat

Saturday Vanguard checks revealed that some aggrieved governors of the ruling All Progressives Congress APC could lose out in their last minute bids to get tickets of other parties for their proxies.

Earlier in the week, there were reports that Uche Nwosu, the son in-law to the Imo state Governor, Rochas Okorocha was on the verge of defecting from the APC, with the governor reported to have expressed support for the move. Nwosu has up till midnight today for a candidate to withdraw for him. There were moves for him to collect a ticket on the platfrom of DPP

In Ogun, Adekunle Akinlade, the preferred governorship candidate of Ogun State governor, Ibikunle Amosun, had on Thursday dumped the APC to the Allied People’s Movement APM.

Mr Akinlade had reportedly lost to Dapo Abiodun at the recently conducted APC governorship primary in Ogun State. With his defection to the APM, he may have to lobby hard to pick the governorship ticket of the party before midnight today (Saturday) if he is to remain in the race. Reports last night said he was also on the verge of picking APM ticket. While INEC’s schedule stipulates the last day for withdrawal by governorship and state assembly candidates to be December 1, 2018, that of Presidential and National Assembly had since lapsed by November 17, 2018.

Kwara state Governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed was this week reported to have withdrawn from the Kwara South senatorial race, having earlier picked the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP, but with the last day for voluntary withdrawal having lapsed, his withdrawal from the race to pave way for the incumbent, Senator Abdulrafiu Ibrahim could be meaningless.

Section 35 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) states that; “Candidates can withdraw their candidature by notice in writing signed by him and delivered to the political party that nominated him for the election and the political party shall convey such withdrawal to the Commission no later than 45 days to the election”. By December 1 which is the last day for withdrawal of governorship candidates, there would still be at least 76 days before the general elections.

However, when asked about the possibility of bending backwards to accommodate new candidates thrown up by the voluntary withdrawal of the original candidates, Director, Publicity, Voter Education, Gender and Civil Society Liaison, Oluwole Osaze-Uzi told Saturday Vanguard that the commission was at liberty to fix dates for all its programmes in line with the law.

“We have fixed the guidelines and it is left for parties to adhere to that. If the law says not later than 45 days, it therefore means that we can put 59 days, 60 or 90 days but certainly not 44 days or anytime lesser than 45 days”, he said.

88 females pick Guber forms

“At the end of the period for the substitution and withdrawal of candidates for the Presidential election, a total of seventy-three (73) political parties have now filed their nominations. Even so, a few parties have nominated candidates below the mandatory age of thirty-five (35) years for as Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates. We have drawn the attention of the parties concerned to the breach of the constitutional requirement ahead of the publication of the full list of presidential and vice presidential candidates for the 2019 General Elections.

“For National Assembly elections, a total of 1,848 candidates (1,615 male and 233 female) are vying for 109 Senatorial seats while 4,635 candidates (4,066 male and 569 female) are competing for the 360 seats in the House of Representatives. Similarly, the full list of candidates and their political parties will be published for public information in line with the Commission’s timetable and schedule of activities.

“As for State elections, a total of 1,068 candidates (980 male and 88 female) are contesting for 29 Governorship positions with 805 male and 263 female Deputy Governorship candidates. The Commission is working on the list of candidates nominated by political parties for the 991 State Assembly constituencies as well as the 68 Area Council Chairmen and Councillors for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The full details will also be published for public information in line with our timetable and schedule of activities.

“Unfortunately, we have also witnessed some of the most acrimonious party primaries in our recent history. Internal party democracy is still a source of concern to our electoral progress. So far, the Commission has been joined in 396 pending actions in various courts across the country arising from the conduct of party primaries and nomination of candidates by political parties. We have similarly received 302 requests for Certified True Copies (CTC) of documents, mainly our monitoring reports of party primaries and copies of personal particulars of candidates. These requests are obviously a prelude to more court actions. In addition, we have also received 52 petitions and protests from aggrieved party aspirants. The implication of these challenges is that as we prepare for the General Elections, we are also going to grapple with pre-election litigation . Parties that fail to respect the democratic process in selecting candidates during primary elections lose the moral right to complain about secondary elections. I wish to reassure the nation that we shall continue to maintain our neutrality as the umpire, registrar and regulator of political parties”.



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