The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has finally clarified its stance regarding the All Progressives Congress (APC) primary elections in Yobe North and Akwa Ibom North-West senatorial districts for the 2023 elections, saying the Commission will only stand by the reports of its monitors sent to monitor the exercises.
The commission stated this in a statement issued on Saturday by its National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye.
DIPLOMATIC DIARY reports that Bashir Sheriff Machina was duly announced as winner of the APC Yobe North ticket while DIG Udom Ekpoudom (rtd) was duly announced as the Akwa Ibom North-West (Ikot Ekpene) senatorial district ticket on the platform of APC.
But the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, and the immediate-past Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, are reported to be angling to replace the initial winners of the Yobe North and Akwa Ibom North-West senatorial tickets respectively.
Even the APC had insisted on them despite rejection by the commission, which claimed that it did not monitor the primaries that produced them as party’s candidates.
Making clarification on the issue on Saturday, Okoye restated the position of INEC that both Lawan and Akpabio stand disqualified as senatorial candidates of the APC.
While emphasising that the commission is “funtus officio in the two cases”, it maintained that it is not backing down from its earlier decision.
The statement reads in part: “The attention of the Commission has been drawn to speculations circulating online on the outcome of some of the recent primaries conducted by political parties and related issues.
“In particular, allegations intended to impugn the integrity of the Commission have been made in respect of the Akwa Ibom North West and Yobe North Senatorial Districts.
“To set the record straight, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria mandates the Commission to monitor the organisation and operation of political parties, including their finances, conventions, congresses and party primaries. In line with its constitutional and legal obligations, the Commission deployed monitors to the various constituencies and received reports of such exercise.
“In relation to the primaries for the Akwa Ibom North West and Yobe North Senatorial Districts, the Commission stands by the monitoring reports received from our State offices.”
For these reasons, Okoye said the Commission did not publish the personal particulars of any candidate for the two senatorial districts at variance with the reports, which emanated from the States.
“Right now, the Commission is funtus officio in the two cases. Aggrieved parties are at liberty to approach the Federal High Court and seek redress as provided in section 285 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and sections 29(5) and 84(14) of the Electoral Act, 2022.”
On the issuance of Certified True Copies (CTCs) of documents, he said the staff of the Commission has been working hard, including weekends, to meet the deluge of requests received.
As at Friday, July 8, 2022, he said the Commission has processed 433 requests involving the certification of 1,662,776 pages of documents.
He said many of them were awaiting collection at the INEC headquarters by some of the same applicants complaining of delay in issuance of the CTCs.
“Section 29 (4) of the Electoral Act provides that any person may apply to the Commission for a copy of nomination form, affidavit, and any other document submitted by a candidate at an election and the Commission shall, upon payment of a prescribed fee, issue such person with a certified copy of document within 14 days. Persons applying for CTC of documents should endeavor to act timely and within the ambit of the law.
“The Commission will continue to uphold the integrity of the electoral process, including the deepening of the deployment of technology to enhance the credibility of elections”, he added.