.Lawan, Akapbio

By Omeiza Ajayi, ABUJA

THE Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, yesterday, debunked speculations that it may have illegally bent backwards to backdate its documents in favour of candidates of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, for Yobe North and Akwa Ibom North-West.

The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, who currently represents Yobe North and former Niger Delta Affairs Minister, Senator Godswill Akpabio, from Akwa Ibom North-West, had lost out of plans to return to the Senate next year as the electoral umpire said the duo did not participate in the respective senatorial primary elections.

Both men were presidential aspirants at the June 8 primary election of the APC, which held days after the party had already concluded its senatorial primary elections across the country.

However, an online report had yesterday, accused INEC of re-enlisting the two names in its files as bonafide candidates of the party.

But when contacted, Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, told Vanguard that the report was false.

Oyekanmi said: “The allegation is the figment of the imagination of those making it. The commission is not complaining of being under any pressure and we did not backdate any document. It’s all fake news. Nigerians should disregard the rumour.

“The commission has made its position on the nomination of candidate procedure known long ago. We have affirmed that no individual or political party will be allowed to circumvent the law. As a commission, we have a responsibility to always uphold the law. And our position has not changed.”

In a statement subsequently, National Commissioner in charge of Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, said the purported documents being bandied about in the online media were only certified true copies of Form 9C uploaded by the APC and received by the commission on June 17, 2022.

He said; “Not for the first time, our attention has been drawn to a story published by an online medium that the commission has doctored, backdated and certified documents to accommodate the nominations emanating from Yobe North and Akwa Ibom North West senatorial districts in respect of Senators Ahmed Lawan and Godswill Akpabio. Nothing can be further from the truth.

“As evidence of the alleged role played by the commission, a certified true copy of Form 9C uploaded by their political party and received by the commission on June 17, 2022 when the nomination portal closed was presented.

‘’For clarity, the Form EC9 (submission of names of candidates by political parties) is the form uploaded by parties on the INEC nomination portal. This is clearly indicated on the title of the Form which was received on 17th June 2022 when the portal closed.

“What follows is the publication of the personal particulars of nominated candidates which was done a week later. The Forms of the two personalities in question were not published by the Commission.

“The decision of the commission triggered legal actions, which are still ongoing. It, therefore, defies logic and common sense to go around and submit doctored documents purportedly recognising the duo as candidates when the matter is clearly sub-judice.”

“As part of the ongoing case in Court, a law firm requested the commission for a Certified True Copy (CTC) of the Form EC9 submitted by the All Progressives Congress (APC) as its candidate for Akwa Ibom North West senatorial district which we are duty bound to oblige them under the law.

‘’The Form was certified on 15th July 2022. If minimum care has been exercised by the promoters of the story, they would have seen the two stamps of the Commission bearing different dates on the Form. It is this Form that is now misconstrued as INEC’ s endorsement.

“For the record, the Commission has not recognised any of the two personalities as a Senatorial candidate.

“We call for responsible reportage as against the unwarranted attack on the Commission and its officials over a matter than can be easily fact checked.”

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