* We complied with INEC’s guidelines — Obiano
By Clifford Ndujihe & Vincent Ujumadu
THE Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has faulted media reports that it has barred the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, and its candidate, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, from the November 6 Anambra Governorship election.
APGA, the ruling party in Anambra was reportedly barred from the poll for violating the Electoral Act 2010 as amended allegedly failing to comply with Section 85 of the Electoral Act.
The electoral umpire said that APGA did not notify it when it purportedly held its ad hoc congress to elect ward delegates for the party’s governorship primary.
INEC’s National Commissioner in charge of Publicity and Voter Education, Mr. Festus Okoye, in a statement, insisted that parties must act within the confines of the law in the conduct of their congresses and primaries if they are to avoid issues and challenges that may complicate the conduct of elections.
Given past experience, parties that did not follow the INEC’s guidelines lost out eventually even if they won the election, a reason, a section of the media reported that Soludo, who the APGA primary that was observed by INEC would not be on the ballot.
We duly informed INEC – Obiano
However, Governor Willie Obiano, in a statement by his Political Adviser, Chief Ifeatu Obiokoye, said: “The attention of our great party, the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, has been drawn to a letter with Reference No INEC/DEPM/UPPM/1/145 dated the 18th of June, 2021 and signed by the Secretary of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
”In the said letter, it was alleged that our party failed to notify the Commission of the ad hoc delegates’ congress which the party conducted across the 326 wards in Anambra State on the 15th and 16th of June 2021 respectively.
“We wish to state categorically that the above position of the Commission is not in line with the dictates of Section 85(1) of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended, as well as a plethora of judicial authorities in that regard.
“Our party duly complied with requisite statutory notices envisaged under the Electoral Act 2010, as amended as well as other requirements clearly outlined by INEC in its regulations and guidelines for the conduct of political party primary elections published by INEC. In line with the said INEC regulations and guidelines, our great party undertook the publication of timetable/schedule of activities, issued statutory notice of primary election dated the 26th of May, 2021 as envisaged under Section 85(1) of the Electoral Act.”
He also explained that the party adequately informed the electoral umpire of the conduct of ad hoc delegates’ election across the 326 wards of Anambra State as envisaged under Section 87(7) of the Electoral Act. and submitted the list of the elected delegates to the Commission in line with Articles 4.5.1 and 4.5.2 of the INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of political parties primaries; as well as other relevant procedural steps/ requirements.
Obiokoye further said: “Undoubtedly, our great party, as a responsible entity, has never defaulted in complying with requisite procedural requirements for the nomination of its candidate in the past and will not begin now.”
We didn’t stop APGA, Soludo – INEC
Speaking on the issue, in a telephone chat with Vanguard, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, Chief press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, picked holes in reports saying that APGA or Soludo would not be on the ballot for the November 6 poll.
His words: I don’t know what the brouhaha is all about. What I know is there is no faction in APGA. The officers of APGA are on our website. Their names have not been changed. The Chairman came to our stakeholders’ meeting and he was welcomed.
”There was no time that INEC said that APGA will not be on the ballot. There was a letter between the commission and APGA but mischievous people are misinterpreting. We have not said anything about APGA not being on the ballot for the November 6 election. If it is so, we will issue a release to that effect.”
Vanguard News Nigeria