…Accuses INEC of displaying partisan Politics, says action is Politically motivated
By Henry Umoru
THIRTY days to the Presidential and National Assembly elections, the New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP has vowed to resist the interference on its internal affairs by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC and its refusal to obey Court of Appeal order to replace its candidates in order for them to participate fully in the polls.
According to NNPP, it is unfortunate that INEC, a veritable symbol of the nation’s democracy and currently preparing to conduct the 2023 general election can show what it described as utter disrespect, disregard and disdain to Court orders of the Court of Appeal and the Federal High Court directing it to accept the names of the fresh candidates submitted to it by the party to replace those that withdrew their candidature as well as resigned from the party.
Addressing Journalists on Thursday in Abuja, the NNPP National Publicity Secretary, Agbo Major who noted that INEC cannot seek to conduct credible 2023 general election while Standing Justice on its head and dissipate energy and resources on wild goose chase, said that the rule of law is the foundation of a democratic nation, just as it urged the CCommission to obey clear orders of court.
Flanked at the briefing by the National Secretary, Dipo Olayoku and the National Legal Adviser, Robert Hon, the NNPP National Publicity Secretary who noted that the action of INEC is politically motivated which will not stand, said, “It is unfortunate that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), a veritable symbol of the nation’s democracy currently preparing to conduct the 2023 general election can show utter disrespect, disregard and disdain to the clear orders of the Court of Appeal and the Federal High Court directing it to accept the names of the fresh candidates submitted to it by the party to replace those that withdrew their candidature and resigned from the party.
“In awkward display of partisan politics unbecoming of an electoral umpire, INEC is yet to accept NNPP candidates submitted to it on 12th September 2022, after an earlier one on 30th August 2022. They are: Kano State: Kano Central Senatorial District, Sen. Rufai Hanga replaces Ibrahim Shekarau. Taraba State: Taraba South Senatorial District, Murtala Garba replaces Hon Ibrahim Mikra. Yobe State: Adamu Mohammed replaces Yahaya Gamaje as Deputy Governorship candidate, Potiskum Central House of Assembly, Zakari Yau Hassan replaces Hon Mohammed Seidu Maikifi.
“Pursuant to Sections 31 and 33 of the Electoral Act 2022, our great party held fresh primaries to fill the above vacant slots in Kano Central Senatorial District on Thursday 8th September 2022, Taraba South Senatorial District, as well as Yobe Potiskum Central House of Assembly (except the Deputy Governorship seat of Yobe State where no election is needed).
“We are aware of a grand plot to deliberately sabotage NNPP and deprive our great party the opportunity to field candidates for these critical positions.
“The party approached the Federal High Court Abuja Division on 12th September 2022, by an originating summons on whether upon proper interpretation of Sections 29(1), 31 and 33 of the Electoral Act 2022, the Defendant (INEC) has the constitutional and statutory powers to prevent the Plaintiff (NNPP) from conducting fresh primaries and replacing their candidates who have voluntarily withdrawn from the race to contest the 2023 general election?
“Whether upon proper interpretation of Sections 29(1), 31 and 33 read together with the Defendant’s Timetable and Schedule of Activities for 2023 general election, the time lines in the Timetable and Schedule of Activities supercedes the time line in the Electoral Act 2022?
“Whether upon proper construction/ interpretation of Sections 29(1), 31 and 33 of the Electoral Act 2022, the Defendant can lawfully refuse to accept the Plaintiff’s candidates to replace those that voluntarily withdrew their candidature and membership of the Plaintiff for the 2023 general election?
“Whether by the combined interpretation of Sections 65(2)(b), 106(d), 177(c) and 187(1) and (2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Defendant (INEC) can impose candidates who withdrew their candidature and resigned their membership of the Plaintiff on the Plaintiff?
“NNPP sought an order directing INEC to allow the party to submit the names of all the candidates it wants to replace with those who voluntarily withdrew their candidature for the 2023 general election and publish their names.
“Delivering judgement in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/632/2022, on 11th November 2022, Hon Justice Z B. Abubakar stated that, the candidates who withdrew their candidature and resigned their membership of the Plaintiff cease to be the Plaintiff’s candidates/or members as such the Defendant (INEC) cannot impose them on the Plaintiff, stressing that the action of INEC in imposing those candidates on the NNPP is an assault on the extant provisions of Sections 65(2)(b), 106(d), 177(c) and 187(1) and (2) of the 1999 Constitution which made it mandatory that, for a person to be qualified to contest election, he must be a member of a political party and sponsored by that political party. Justice Abubakar granted the five reliefs sought by the party.
“In a well calculated effort to frustrate the party, INEC appealed the judgement of the Federal High Court in appeal number CA/ABJ/CV/1295/2022. In its judgement delivered on 3rd January 2023, by Hon Justice I. B. Gafai, the Court declared: “On the whole therefore, both issues having been resolved against the Appellant (INEC), this Appeal ends as one without merit, liable to be and is hereby dismissed. The judgement of the lower Court is thus affirmed.” Justices Hamma Akawu Barka and Muslim Sule Hassan also in the panel dismissed INEC appeal as lacking in merit.
“It is this clear judgement and order of the appellate court on 3rd January 2023, that INEC has refused to comply with and dissipate energy and resources on wild goose chase to frustrate NNPP from fielding candidates for these positions. It is unacceptable, unjust and unpatriotic. The party demands immediate replacement of its former candidates who voluntarily withdrew from the party as directed by the Court of Appeal. INEC cannot impose candidates on our great party. It is unfair, anti-democratic and impunity of the worst order. All lovers of democracy in Nigeria should resist this open defiance to Court of Appeal judgement and order. Nigeria is not a Banana Republic that laws are recklessly subverted by maximum rulers and agencies. INEC is not above the law. It cannot choose which judgement of the court of competent jurisdiction to obey.
“The Commission must be mindful of its actions and reactions so as not to derail the electoral process. It has enormous task of conducting free, fair and transparent elections to meddle in the internal affairs of a political party in flagrant violation of its mandate. Adopting a delay tactic by chasing a wild goose across the country is the height of rascality. The nation’s electoral process must be sanitized, strengthened and deepened by all stakeholders. INEC must justify the confidence Nigerians reposed in it and do the right thing.
“NNPP urges Nigerians to collect their permanent voter cards (PVCs) before the January 29, 2023 deadline set by the commission. The destiny of the nation is at stake. Eligible voters should ensure they come out en-masse and vote for NNPP for a new and better Nigeria. The party’s Presidential Candidate, Senator (Engr.) Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso is the most credible, competent and courageous candidate to usher in a united, progressive, prosperous and equitable democratic nation. A vote for NNPP is a vote for a new Nigeria. Join us to make it happen on February 25, 2023.”
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