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Why we accepted Lawan as APC candidate but rejected Akpabio — INEC commissioner

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A National Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Malam Mohammed Haruna has cleared the air over the decision of the electoral umpire to recognise Senate President Ahmad Lawan as the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for Yobe North Senatorial District.

It would be recalled that Lawan didn’t partake in the primaries due to his presidential bid, and Bashir Machina who won the primaries had insisted that he wasn’t relinquishing the APC for the Senate President.

Farooq Kperogi, a renowned columnist and US-based academic, in a June 17 article had knocked INEC against the background that the Resident Electoral Commission (REC) for Akwa Ibom State, Mike Igini rejected the candidacy of the immediate past Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio as the APC standard bearer for Ibom West Senatorial District even though he won the rerun primaries.

In response to Kperogi’s article, Haruna explained that INEC has no powers to reject names sent by political parties, and that primaries are the sole prerogatives of parties albeit expected to be monitored by the electoral umpire.

“Our power in that regard rests on the fact that our reports are admissible as evidence whenever an aggrieved candidate petitions his party or the courts. It is therefore up to an aggrieved candidate to apply for the certified true copy (CTC) of our reports for presentation as evidence that his party did not abide by any or all of the three sets of regulations I mentioned,” he said.

“In the specific of Lawan & Akpabio, INEC has not picked & chosen as you said, citing media remarks by the Akwa Ibom REC. We merely received their names from the parties as stipulated in Section 29(1) of the Electoral Act.”

The INEC commissioner noted that the receipt of names does not automatically mean acceptance, as Section 29(3) of the Electoral Act provides for the publication, within a week of their submission, of the names submitted by the parties for claims and objections.

“Igini’s remarks paint only a partial picture of the relevant regulations. He merely mentioned Section 31 that deals with the issue of withdrawal of candidate. For some inexplicable reason, he forgot to mention the section which mandates INEC to monitor only the primary of the State party executive recognised by the party’s National Headquarters. So if anyone was picking and choosing it was Igini & not INEC.

“Also note that the final list is not due for publication until September 20th for the national elections & October 4th for the state elections, by which time all petitions by aggrieved candidates to parties or the courts would’ve been addressed,” Haruna added.

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