Politics

March 5, 2024

Edo guber: INEC opens candidates’ nomination portal

INEC

INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu

By Omeiza Ajayi & Ozioruva Aliu, ABUJA

THE Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, yesterday, opened candidates nomination portal for the September 21 governorship election in Edo State.

Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi, confirmed this in a chat with Vanguard.
INEC had, last week, said political parties have from yesterday, March 4, to 6pm of Sunday, March 24, 2024, to file their nominations.

It also asked political parties participating in the Edo governorship election to work within the timeline for the nomination of candidates, saying it would not grant any extension.

INEC National Commissioner in charge of Information and Voter Education Committee, Sam Olumekun, gave the charge in a statement issued on Friday, in Abuja.

Olumekun had noted that as provided by the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the forthcoming off-cycle Edo State governorship election, the deadline for the conduct of primaries by political parties expired on February 24, 2024.

According to him, the next activity is the submission of nomination forms by political parties via the dedicated online portal.

He said: “The commission has earmarked a period of 20 days for Political parties to upload the Personal Particulars (Form EC9) and Names/List of Nominated candidates (Form EC9B) of their candidates to the portal which will open at 9.00am on Monday 4th March 2024 and automatically shut down at 6.00pm on Sunday 24th March 2024. Access Code to the portal will be available for collection by national chairmen of political parties from today (yesterday).”

“The commission wishes to draw the attention of political parties that 20 days are enough to upload the nomination forms of only two candidates per party (Governorship candidate and running mate). Therefore, there is no reason to request for extension of time and none will be granted beyond Sunday 24th March 2024. Political parties should ensure strict compliance with the timelines.”

I’m APC candidate, Idahosa writes INEC

Meanwhile, the last has not been heard on the governorship primary of the All Progressives Congress, APC, as an aspirant, Mr Dennis Idahosa, has written to the INEC chairman not to receive any other name as the candidate of the party apart from him.

In a letter dated March 4, 2024, written by Wole Olanipekun, SAN, marked WOC/ABJ/VOL.01/074/2024 and addressed to the Chairman of INEC, Professor Mahmud Yakubu, Idahosa said a legal action with Suit No.FHC/ABJ/CS/274/2024 between himself and Senator Monday Okpebholo, with the APC and INEC as joiners had been instituted where he is claiming the candidacy of the party and urged INEC to take cognizance of the suit.

In the suit, Idahosa said he won the February 17, 2024 exercise monitored by the INEC where he was declared the winner and that there was no basis for the supplementary election ordered by the leadership of the party as no reason was given for the decision.

He also argued that the February 20 make-up was not a standalone election but a continuation of the February 17 exercise so the results of the 17th exercise cannot be jettisoned.

He said “The record of INEC/the Commission will show that under your leadership, the Commission monitored the Edo State APC primary election for the nomination of the Governorship candidate of the APC under the prior notification that the primary election will specifically hold on 17th February 2024. The primary election was indeed held, and our client garnered 40,453 votes (a copy of the result certified by INEC is attached herein as Annexure 1). INEC’s report of monitoring the election confirms that, at the end of the process, our client was returned as the duly elected candidate of the APC (a copy of the INEC report as certified by the Commission is attached as Annexure 2). The APC primary election committee that conducted the election also confirmed that our client won the election as evidenced by a report signed by all members of the committee (without a single instance of dissent).

“Our client is aware that the APC subsequently confirmed to INEC that the primary election held as scheduled on 17th February, 2024; however, without giving any reason, indicated that the election was inconclusive and will be completed on 22nd February, 2024 and invited INEC to monitor the completion exercise. At the end and in respect of the completion exercise, Senator Monday Okpebholo was said to have scored 12, 433 votes whilst our client was allocated 6,541 votes. Sen. Monday Okpebholo scored 100 votes at the primary election of 17th February, 2024 (a copy of the result sheet from the completion primary election on 22nd February, 2024 certified by INEC is attached as Annexure 3). Our client disagrees that the primary election of 17th February, 2024 was inconclusive or that there was any basis to schedule what was described as a completion of the process. Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/ 274/2024 has been instituted to ventilate that challenge.

“As things stand, INEC is in custody of two results for the APC primary election for the 2024 Governorship election in Edo State (one dated 17th February, 2024, and the other dated 23rd February, 2024). The summation of the votes in both results demonstrates clearly that our client won the primary election even if his votes from the 17th February, 2024 results are the only ones reckoned with.

“Put differently, an addition of the votes of all the other aspirants from both results will neither match nor supersede our client’s votes from 17th February, 2024. At best (assuming it is valid), the completion primary election of 22nd February, 2024 was a supplementary election.

“Fortunately, the commission under your leadership has had cause to conduct supplementary elections including the 2018 governorship election in Osun State where a winner was declared by INEC upon a summation of the votes from the main and supplementary election. The decision of the Commission to make a return incorporating both balloting exercises (since they were part of the same process) was affirmed by the Supreme Court in Adeleke v. Oyetola (2020) 6 NWLR (Pt. 1721) 440 at 555.

“Prior to the Osun scenario, INEC had also declared the 2016 governorship election in Kogi State inconclusive and conducted a supplementary election. The Commission declared a winner upon the summation of the votes from both balloting exercises and the correctness of same was affirmed by the Supreme Court in Faleke v. INEC (2016) 18 NWLR (Pt. 1543) 61 at 121.

“The representation by APC to INEC that the process of 22nd February,2024,was a completion acknowledges that it is not a standalone and indeed has its foundation in the election of 17th February, 2024.

“In the prevailing circumstances, it has thus become compelling that the Commission maintains fidelity with its earlier referenced precedents in Kogi and Osun states and takes full cognizance of the results from February 17, 2024 primary election in accepting and subsequently publishing the nomination of APC’s candidate.

“The commission will also appreciate that there are pending reliefs for injunction in Suit No.FHC/ABJ/CS/274/2024 and are urged not to take any step that will either pre-empt the court or prejudice the ongoing judicial process.”