By Jide Afolabi, Jos
An All Progressives Congress, APC, chieftain who is a former Member Representing Pengana constituency in the Plateau State House of Assembly, Hon. Gondina sambo has petitioned against the purported planned fresh conduct of APC Primaries for the Pengana Constituency of Bassa Local Government Area.
Hon. Gondina sambo, a business man and card carrying member at the All Progressives Congress (hereafter referred to as APC) under Kadamo ward of Bassa Local Government of Plateau State who came second position had vehemently rejected ideas for going to conduct another primaries as contrary to the Electoral Act, 2010 as amended.
He emphasized that upon release of the guidelines for the conduct of Primaries by divers political parties into various elective offices in Nigeria by the Independent National Electoral Commission (hereinafter referred to as INEC indicated interest by purchasing the Expression of Interest Form of APC to participate in its primaries to select a candidate that will bear the party’s flag in the 2019 General Elections for the position of Member, Plateau State House of Assembly representing Pengana Constituency.
Sambo explained that the said APC primary was conducted some time in October, 2018 where himself and the Late Hon. Ezekiel Bauda Afon emerged the winner with 106 votes.
He lamented that having the highest number of votes, the Late Ezekiel Bauda Afon became the party’ flagbearer in the 2019 General Elections into the Plateau State House of Assembly representing Pengana Constituency .
According to him, after the 9th March, 2019 governorship and House of Assembly elections Ezekiel Afon emerges winner but died shortly after his declaration were he call on the attention of the state to consider him as second aspirants who scored 83 Votes .
He maintained that, while the APC was still in the mood of celebration then it came avery sad mourning moment of the euphoria of the victory, the candidate who bore the party’s flag, Ezekiel Afon Monday died.
“While we are still mourning the demise of Late Ezekiel Afon, some numbers of the party at the Local Government level decided on their own to conduct what they termed as ‘Primary Election’, allegedly to select a flag bearer for the APC for whatsoever election best known to them.
He frowned that, can the said group at the Local Government conduct a primary election after the general elections has been conducted, concluded and APC declared winner?
Adding, “Can the said conduct of a fresh primary without due notice to INEC as required by law in disregard of the primaries conducted by the APC sometime
in October and accepted by INEC be valid”?
He pointed out that, Can there be a valid primary election without INEC supervision and the presence of security agencies? Can there be a valid primary election without the Party‘s ballot papers?
It is settled that elections are contested and won by political parties and not candidate.
This position has been settled by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as is only a political party that can canvass for votes on behalf of a candidate as provided by Section 221 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.
Sambo explains that the provision was a blessing to the Supreme Court when decided in the case of Amaechi. In AMAECHI Vs. INEC (2008) ALL FWLR (My 497) Pg. 1 @ 97-93 Per Oguntade JSC, the Supreme Court held that;
“Without a political party, a candidate cannot contest. The primary method of contest for elective offices is therefore between parties. If as provided in section 221 above, it is only a party that can canvass for votes, it follows that it is a political party that wins an election. A good or bad candidate may enhance or diminish the prospect of his party in winning but at the end of the day, it is the party that wins or loses an election.”
The Court went further to state that:
In mundane or colloquial terms, we say that a candidate has won an election in a particular constituency but in reality and in consonance with section 221 of the constitution, it is the party that has won the election.”
Consequently, at the elections conducted into the seat of Member representing Pengana Constituency on the 9th March, 2018 was not just contested and won by Late Ezekiel Bauda Afon but was contested and won by APC. Consequently, the flagbearer upon his death, died and left the APC with its victory.
He left APC with the seat to present somebody to INEC to substitute him.
Furthermore, although the time for substitution of candidate has elapsed, however, Section 33 of the Electoral Act, 2010 makes a blanket provision in case of death of a candidate. The Section provides thus:
“A political party shall not be allowed to change or substitute its candidate whose name has been submitted pursuant to Section 31 of this Act, except in the case of death or withdrawal by the candidate.”
I pray that my name, as the candidate that came second at the APC be forwarded to INEC as the substitute for the Late Ezekiel Afon ,line with the current position of the law. Sir, I am confident that by the integrity and commitment towards upholding the standard of transparency in the APC, you would be able to deal decisively.
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