Following the controversy surrounding the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) primary election for the upcoming Anambra State governorship election, a group, the Anambra State Indigenous Lawyers Forum (ASILF), has held the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) culpable for the resulting crisis.
The President of the group, Joe Nwokedi, who spoke to the press yesterday, described the present situation as very pathetic, as there is a conflict of laws, orders, rulings and interest over the conduct of the primary election in the state.
According to him, “The constitution mandates INEC to monitor and be involved in any election for it to be valid, but the question now is ‘has INEC been monitoring these elections? The law is very clear; if the election isn’t monitored by INEC, such election should be declared null and void.
“INEC is supposed to ask questions as well as exercise due diligence about the group inviting them for the congress, and inquire if they are the authentic leaders of the political party. If they happen to engage in that diligent action, this issue of factional and non-factional leadership in political parties would have been resolved even before the congress, and it is worthy to note that INEC attends the congress, and they send their representatives there. This is to prevent a re-occurrence of court cases emanating from primary elections.”
Nwokedi explained that INEC was still finding it difficult to recognise the exact valid faction, “whereas the law states they must be involved even before the election of these executive officers.”
He insisted that INEC should be held culpable in the crisis “because the law is very clear on the roles it ought to play even before the conduct of the primary elections.
“The guidelines have already provided areas that INEC is supposed to come into play to determine at the beginning which faction is complying with the provisions of the law and which one isn’t.”
Speaking on the way forward in the forthcoming Anambra State elections, he said: “What might happen is the same scenario that played out in Rivers State, because the law is very clear that it is political parties that sponsor candidates.
“None of the candidates contested the election as an independent candidate; they were all sponsored by political parties. The worst case scenario might be that the name of the political parties will be by the ballot boxes while courts are left to determine the authentic candidates of the political parties, but the political party might go ahead to contest the elections because at the end of the day, a candidate will emerge and it will be very injurious to any party that might have spent resources.”