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The hope of Senate President, Ahmad Lawan and former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, to return to the upper chambers in the National Assembly is gradually deeming, as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has ruled that both stand disqualified as senatorial candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The candidacy of both Akpabio and Lawan has been shrouded in confusion and legal tussle with the APC insisting on them despite rejection by the commission, which claimed that it did not monitor the primaries that produced them as party’s candidates.
Reacting formally on the controversial issue in a statement signed by National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, the commission advised them to seek legal redress against the decision to disqualify them.
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 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 organization 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 this reason, the commission did not publish the personal particulars of any candidate for the two constituencies at variance with the State reports. 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,” INEC advised in the statement.
On the issuance of Certified True Copies (CTCs) of documents, the commission disclosed that it has received whopping total of 433 requests involving the certification of 1,662,776 pages of documents.
“Its staff has been working hard, including weekends, to meet the deluge of requests received. As at Friday July 8, 2022, the Commission has processed 433 requests involving the certification of 1,662,776 pages of documents.
“Many of them are 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,” the statement read. (The Sun)