A group, Abuja School of Social and Political Thoughts, has warned Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) not to take the country to inglorious days, when impunity reigned, by substituting the names of validly elected candidates in the just concluded political parties’ primaries with people that did not participate in the process.
The group also advised INEC to ensure its actions are guided by the Electoral Act to avoid external manipulations by anti-democratic elements.
It gave the warning at the weekend via a statement issued by its Director, Dr. Sam Amadi.
The Abuja School told INEC to reject the fraudulent and false submissions of candidates by parties.
The warning came against the backdrop of the controversy surrounding the submission of the names of Senate President Ahmad Lawan and Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio.
Their names were said to have surreptitiously appeared on INEC’s portals as senatorial candidates when they reportedly did not participate in elections.
The group contended that for anyone to emerge as a candidate based on the provisions of the Electoral Act, the person must have participated in a primary.
It said an aspirant must have purchased the expression of interest form for the senatorial election and be screened, adding that by the provisions of Section 33 of the 2022 Electoral Act, a political party cannot remove or substitute a candidate that emerges from a valid primary.
Besides, the person must be on the list of contestants sent by a political party to INEC and must have participated in the senatorial election on May 27.
The statement reads in part: “With the conclusion of the elective primaries of parties and the close of the deadline for submission of candidates for federal elections, based on guidelines issued by INEC, the process for the 2023 general elections in Nigeria has commenced in earnest.
“The Abuja School of Social and Political Thoughts has watched the process of the elective primaries of the parties and is satisfied with the considerable compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022.
“We want to commend INEC for exercising its oversight functions in a manner that forced the parties to comply with the requirement of democratically electing candidates for elective offices in the 2023 general elections. Without INEC’s oversight, many of the parties would have continued the tradition of violating the norms of democracy in the choice of their candidates.
“As an intellectual and policy think-tank committed to providing insights and evidence-based analyses to assist state institutions to deliver on their mandates, the Abuja School is alarmed at the efforts of some politicians and party leaders to undermine the provisions of the electoral law as regards submission of nominated candidates to INEC.
“It is being reported that some high-profile politicians who did not win INEC-monitored primaries of their parties are being submitted by their party leaders, in clear violation of the provisions of the electoral law.”
“Two notable cases are those of the President of the Senate and the former Minister of Niger Delta Affair, who contested the APC presidential primary and lost but are making frantic efforts to regain senate seats from winners of the primaries.
“The winners of the duly conducted primaries have refused to give up their tickets. Notwithstanding, the party reportedly has uploaded the Senate President and the Minister of Niger Delta as senatorial candidates, although they did not participate in a valid primary.
“Submitting names of persons who did not win duly conducted primaries on INEC’s portal is contrary to the electoral law. The electoral law requires that only persons who won duly conducted primaries should be submitted as candidates.
“It is INEC that determines what is a duly conducted primary, based on its guidelines and the electoral law. The practice in the past where INEC allowed parties to make wrong and fraudulent entries and hoped that the courts will reverse them has gone with the new Electoral Act, which now empowers INEC to reverse such fraudulent and wrong actions by the parties.”
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