Following the impending Appeals by the All progressive Congress (APC) and the subsequent exclusion of all its candidates in Rivers and Zamfara States as well as publishing of the candidates of Buruji Kashamu faction of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ogun State by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) last Thursday, the commission has said that it will not speculate on what the ruling of the Appeal Court will be on the matter.
The INEC National Commission, Barr. Festus Okoye who disclosed this at a one day sensitization forum for journalist in Awka on Friday stated that the position of the commission was that it had taken a decision in relation to what was before it adding that if on today something else happened, it would sit down as a commission and take a decision.
Okoye said,” The Independent National Electoral Commission does engage in speculations, we will not speculate on what the Appeal Court will give. Our position is that we have taken a decision in relation to what is before us, if on Monday something else happens, we will go and sit down as a commission, we have twelve INEC National Commissioners plus the Chairman making us thirteen, we will go and sit down as commission and take a decision.
“So, for now, we will not speculate on what will happen either on the 4th or on any other day, when we get to that bridge, we will cross it.
He pointed out that Section 87 of the Electoral Act gave the National Executive Committee of a political party the mandate to organize party primary elections and that that mandate was that the party must organize party primary elections using the direct or indirect primary even as he noted that it was left to the political parties to make choice of which one it intends to use as INEC does not interfere in relation to that.
Hear him,” The second is that the Independent National Electoral Commission has been consistent in stating that if it is served an order of the court from a properly constituted court of law and we verify that that order was made by a court of law and we obtain a certify true copy of that order and the order was given in relation to the Independent National Electoral Commission and in relation to a duly registered political party, whether we like the order or not, we are going to obey it until the order is set aside by a higher court.
“In Ogun State, we were served with an order of a court of law saying that the Independent National Electoral Commission can only collect the list of candidates submitted by the Buruji Kashamu faction of the PDP. That order is still subsisting, no other court of law has set it aside and that is exactly what we have done. We collected the list the court said we should collect. If tomorrow that particular order is set aside and we are asked to collect a different list from the National Executive Committee of the political party, we definitely collect. But as at today, the only court order we have is the court order saying collect the list produced by the Ogun Sate chapter of the PDP and that’s exactly what we did.
“In relation to Zamfara, the Independent National Electoral Commission must be consistent and has been consistent. We said from our own findings, from our own monitoring that the APC did not conduct party primaries in Zamfara State and if you did not conduct party primary, you cannot submit a list of candidate to the Independent National Electoral Commission. Now, if you look at Section 87 of the Electoral Ac, it says that an aspirant can contest party primary election in his or her political party through direct or indirect means and Section 87 says that at the end of the party primary elections that the aspirant that scored the majority of lawful votes shall have his or her name submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission as the candidate of the party.
“You can only become a candidate of a political party within the contemplation of the Section 31 of the Electoral Act after you transmute from being an aspirant and you can only transmute from being an aspirant when your political party has conducted direct or indirect primary and you have been declared as the winner. When you are now declared as the winner, you now become a candidate. If you don’t conduct primary election, all your people who want to contest remain aspirants and we only collect lists of candidates.
“So, we insisted that they did not conduct and therefore they have not need to submit their list. Now, the APC as a political party at the national level went to the Federal High Court in Abuja to say, yes, we did not conduct party primary elections within the contemplation of the law but we did consensus and the Federal High Court said no, by Section 87 of the Electoral Act, you either conduct direct or indirect primary. There is nothing like consensus in Section 87 of the Electoral Act and that what they conducted was not a valid party primary elections and said that the Independent National Electoral Commission was right in refusing to accept their candidates.
“The State chapter of the party that conducted their own party primaries in Zamfara, also went to Gusau High Court to say that the national started and the state chapter concluded. The High Court in Gusau said yes, that if they say that the national started and the state completed, you have conducted valid party primary elections. So, we had two contradictory court orders from courts of coordinate jurisdiction and delivered the same day. We considered those two court orders on Saturday and at the end of the day, we decided to remain where we are and insisted that they didn’t conduct party primary elections and therefore, we excluded them from the list of candidates we released yesterday.
“In relation to Rivers, we were served with two court orders from the Federal High Court in Rivers presided over by Justice Omotosho. One of them relates to APC and APC, it was filed by the Magnus Abe faction of the APC. They went to court to say that they were excluded from party primary election and that they conduct of party primary elections in Rivers was in violation of a subsisting court order. The court agreed with them that the conduct was in violation of a subsisting court order but said that even the direct primary primaries which the Magnus Abe faction claimed that they conducted which they want the court to validate was also illegal.
“Then the Peoples Democratic Party also took APC and INEC to court to ask the court to determine whether the APC can present candidates to the Independent National Electoral Commission having not conducted party primary elections. The court said no they cannot. Based on that, the court said, don’t publish the name of any candidate of APC, remove their logo from the ballot paper and don’t even allow them to campaign.
“Based on that, the Independent National Electoral Commission released the names of the candidates for the election without any candidate of the APC in Rivers. So, in all these, we have remained consistent and we have obeyed court orders when it is practically possible to obey court orders and in relation to all these contradictory court orders, we have made a report to the appropriate authority saying courts of coordinate jurisdictions cannot being putting the Independent National Electoral Commission in a fix in relation to which court order to obey and which court order not to obey. If you obey one, that means you have disobeyed the other and we are saying that this kind of situation should not be allowed to persist as we move towards the 2019 elections”.
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