August 09, (THEWILL) – The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has dismissed reports that it recognised Senate President Ahmad Lawan and Senator Godswill Akpabio, as senatorial candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
An online newspaper, (not THEWILL) reported Tuesday, that INEC had recognised Lawan and Akpabio as the respective senatorial candidates of the APC for the Yobe North and Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial Districts.
Quoting sources, the medium claimed that the electoral umpire, “bowed to political pressures”, by allegedly doctoring and backdating a report by INEC on the conduct of APC’s primary elections to accommodate the Senate President and former Niger Delta Minister as senatorial candidates.
But INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, in a statement on Tuesday, described the reports as “spurious”.
Okoye said as evidence of the alleged role played by the Commission, a certified true copy of Form 9C uploaded by their political parties and received by the Commission on June 17, 2022, when the nomination portal closed, was earlier presented.
For clarity, he said the Form EC9 (submission of names of candidates by political parties) is the Form uploaded by parties on the INEC nomination portal.
He said it was clearly indicated on the title of the Form which was received on June 17, 2022, when the portal closed.
The statement, titled: ‘Spurious Allegations In Respect Of Nomination Of Candidates In Some Senatorial Districts’, read: “As evidence of the alleged role played by the Commission, a certified true copy of Form 9C uploaded by their political party and received by the Commission on 17th June 2022 when the nomination portal closed was presented.
“For clarity, the Form EC9 (submission of names of candidates by political parties) is the Form uploaded by parties on the INEC nomination portal. This is clearly indicated on the title of the Form which was received on 17th June 2022 when the portal closed.
“What follows is the publication of the personal particulars of nominated candidates which was done a week later. The Forms of the two personalities in question were not published by the Commission. The decision of the Commission triggered legal action which is still ongoing. It, therefore, defies logic and common sense to go around and submit doctored documents purportedly recognising the duo as candidates when the matter is clearly sub-judice.
“As part of the ongoing case in Court, a law firm requested the Commission for a Certified True Copy (CTC) of the Form EC9 submitted by the All Progressives Congress (APC) as its candidate for Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District which we are duty bound to oblige them under the law.
“The Form was certified on 15th July 2022. If minimum care had been exercised by the promoters of the story, they would have seen the two stamps of the Commission bearing different dates on the Form. It is this Form that is now misconstrued as INEC’s endorsement.
“For the record, the Commission has not recognised any of the two personalities as a Senatorial Candidate. We call for responsible reportage as against the unwarranted attack on the Commission and its officials over a matter that can be easily fact-checked.”
The APC had submitted Lawan and Akpabio’s names to the commission even though Bashir Machina and Udom Ekpoudom had emerged in the Yobe North and Akwa-Ibom Northwest senatorial primaries.
But Lawan and Akpabio’s names were, however, excluded from the list of candidates participating in the 2023 polls.
In a subsequent statement, INEC explained the reason for its action.
“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”, Okoye had said in a statement issued in July.