The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC has disclosed that the All Progressive Congress, APC, has no Senatorial candidates for Yobe north and Akwa Ibom north-West for the 2023 general election. INEC spokesperson, Festus Okoye made this known over the weekend during an interview on a Channels television. In June, the electoral umpire had excluded the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, and former Minister of Niger Delta, Godswill Akpabio from the list of candidates vying for the senatorial seat in Yobe North and Akwa Ibom North West senatorial zones respectively.
According to INEC, although the APC as a party had submitted the names of the two APC chieftains for the Senatorial contest in their respective districts the process followed was shrouded with lots of controversies.
There were allegations that the electoral umpire had backdated the certified true copies of forms and reports to create room for Lawan and Akpabio when they lost out in the presidential contest, but INEC refuted the allegation.
Okoye confirmed that his office has not recognized Lawan and Akpabio as APC aspirants in their respective districts as the nomination of the duo did not follow due process during the conduct of primary elections.
The INEC spokesperson clarified that any political party that nominates candidates who were not nominated during the conduct of a recognized primary election will be considered null and void.
In his statement, “The commission has made it very clear that under section 29(1) of the electoral act, it is the responsibility to forward to INEC the list and personal particulars of their members who emerged from validly-conducted party primaries,” he said.
“In these two constituencies, two names were forwarded and the commission made a determination that the names were not persons who emerged from validly-conducted party primaries and we did not publish their names. That is where we are.
“So, the commission will not go out of its way to plead with a political party to forward the name of a candidate that emerged from a validly-conducted primary, Okoye added.
He further explained, “If a political party does not forward the name of the candidate that emerged from a validly-conducted primary, the implication is that the political party will not have the candidate in the election for that particular constituency and that is just the law.
“Their (referring to Lawan and Akpabio) names were uploaded by the APC to our candidates’ nomination portal, but the commission made a determination that they were not the candidates that emerged from valid party primaries.
“The commission did not publish their names and their particulars in their constituencies. So, the implication is that as of today, the APC does not have candidates in those two constituencies.”
This has laid to rest the allegations that the APC was gagging INEC into perpetrating illegality as was insinuated in some quarters.