‘We are not under obligation to publish the names of candidates submitted by political parties if there are questions over the validity of primaries featuring such candidates’
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has published the particulars of the presidential candidates, vice presidential candidates, senatorial and House of Representatives candidates for the 2023 elections with the names of Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan and that of the former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, missing on the senatorial list.
Also yesterday, INEC explained why some of the names submitted by the political parties were missing from the list published by the commission.
Lawan, Akpabio and Umahi, had been listed by the All Progressives Congress as candidates for Yobe North, Akwa Ibom North-west, and Ebonyi South senatorial districts, respectively.
All three had also contested the APC presidential ticket and lost.
But the leadership of the party decided to compensate them with the senatorial tickets in a manner not transparent.
It is believed that the three men were excluded on the list placed in various constituencies of the elective positions, because they did not emerge through validly conducted primary elections.
Lawan, who obviously did not participate in the Yobe North primary election had his name sent to INEC by the APC at the expense of Bashir Machina, who won the primary.
In Akwa Ibom State, an earlier primary election held on May 27 had produced Udom Ekpoudom, a retired Deputy Inspector-General of Police. But the APC dumped Ekpoudom and allowed an illegal fresh primary that produced Akpabio.
Umahi also had a primary election that produced his brother cancelled for a fresh one, but it was not recognized by INEC.
“Lawan, Umahi and Akpabio are not on the list. I can confirm that to you. They did not emerge through valid primaries and so, we can’t accommodate them,” a top INEC official told THISDAY last night.
Ekpoudom and Machina were also not listed by INEC for the elections.
INEC Defends Action
Speaking yesterday on a television programme, INEC’s National Commissioner, Festus Okoye, said the commission was not under obligation to publish the names of candidates submitted by political parties if there are questions over the validity of primaries featuring such candidates.
He said: “If you look at section 29 (1) of the Electoral Act 2022. Section 29 says ‘every political party shall not later than 180 days before the date appointed for a general election under this act submit to the commission in the prescribed forms, the list of the candidates they are proposing to support at the election, who must have emerged from valid primaries conducted by the political parties.
“The commission does not submit the list of candidates. It is the political parties themselves that has been given the locus to submit this particular list and in this case, there is no personal interference between the commission and the political parties.
“We open the portal — what we called ‘candidate nomination portal’ — and we give an access code to the national chairman of each of the political parties that conducted primaries with which they upload the list and personal particulars of their nominated candidates.
“So, if a political party has uploaded the list and personal particulars of a candidate that did not emerge from valid party primary, INEC is not under a constitutional and legal obligation to publish the particulars of such a candidate.”
The INEC spokesperson added that a candidate who was validly nominated at the primary but whose name was excluded by the party can seek redress from a competent court.
He also said the list published yesterday wa not the final document for the 2023 polls, adding that the final list will be published at a later date.
INEC Releases Report Showing Lawan Did Not Participate in Primary
INEC yesterday released the formal report on APC Yobe North Senatorial primary, confirming that Lawan did not participate in the primary held May 28 in Gashua.
The APC National Chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, had last Monday, while presenting the Ekiti State governor-elect (Biodun Oyebanji) to President Muhammadu Buhari, insisted that Lawan participated and won the primary election.
But INEC, in the Certified True Copy of the Yobe North senatorial primary election report issued to Bashir Machina, did not list Lawan as one of the participants and stated that Machina won primary election.
The INEC’s report, sighted by THISDAY in Abuja yesterday, indicated that Machina scored 289 votes from the 300 delegates that took part in the election
The report dated June 23, 2022, did not corroborate claims by Adamu that Lawan won the ticket.
The report was prepared by the Resident Electoral Commissioner in the Yobe State through the acting Head of Department of EPM.
The report read, “The Senatorial Primary for zone ‘C’ comprising Bade, Yusufari, Jakusko, Nguru, Karasuwa and Machina local government areas respectively.
“The primary was held at the Government House in Gashua, the headquarters of Bade Local Government Area.
“The Primary started by 11am as scheduled. Security agents and respective electoral officers of the affected local government areas were all present at the venue.
“The primary was conducted by one Alhaji Danjuma Isah Munga.
“The primary started with opening prayer from the Secretary of the Planning Committee, Alhaji Lawan Modu-Sheriff.”
The results by INEC showed that 300 delegates were present and dully accredited.
It also indicated that the poll was conducted by open ballot.
Machina had last Monday vowed not to step down for the Senate President, insisting that he won the primary and that he remained the candidate of the APC for the Yobe North Senatorial District for the 2023 National Assembly election.
Adamu claimed that a primary was held and that Lawan purportedly emerged winner.
Investigation by THISDAY yesterday revealed that Machina would file a suit to defend his alleged stolen mandate at a Yobe High Court next Monday.
Lawan lost the APC presidential ticket to Bola Tinubu and returned to his senatorial district for the party’s senatorial ticket but met strong resistance from Machina.
There was apprehension yesterday when supporters of Machina organised a solidarity protest where they swore that their candidate won’t step down for Lawan, who has repeatedly represented the constituency since 2007.
Machina had also written the leadership of the party last Monday, and vowed not to willingly relinquish his mandate.
Part of the letter read, “I write to reaffirm my continual aspiration as the All Progressives Congress unequivocal senatorial candidate for Yobe North Senatorial District, following my clearance and participation at the party primaries, where I pulled 289 votes out of the 300 total votes cast.
“I write to reaffirm that I remain committed to the mandate which I won at the primaries and I have not in form or manner communicated otherwise. I have been informed of a purported malicious and mischievous report and insinuation to the contrary.
“Please note that I never at any time signed or communicated in any form any intent to vacate the mandate, which was won at the primaries.
“I am totally committed to my mandate and I am working towards delivering Yobe North Senatorial District to our great party, the All Progressives Congress.”
Adamu has however warned Machina, over his insistence on the party’s senatorial ticket for the district.
Speaking with journalists in Abuja on Thursday, the APC chairman said the issues affecting the party on primaries were not unusual, adding that they had been resolved.
He said: If you don’t know how to set a trap for a thief, the thief will set the trap for you. Machina should be careful; his issue is getting out of hand. As far I am concerned as chairman, my party did not violate any law.
“Is there any law that says you cannot contest for a position after contesting for another one. No law prohibits anyone from doing so.”