The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has declared that the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) cannot participate in the yet-to-be fixed Anambra Central Senatorial District rerun election.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said on Monday during a consultative meeting with the media in Abuja, that the decision was based on the principle of the commission that any candidate of a political party that is disqualified by the law court in any court-nullified election cannot be allowed to take part in the rerun.
He added that the political party will also not be allowed to substitute a candidate.
The AUTHORITY recalls that while the PDP candidate, Uche Ekwunife, was disqualified by the Election Petitions Tribunal, her APC counterpart, Dr. Chris Ngige, declined to participate in the proposed re-run, after he was appointed the Minister of Labour and Employment by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Yakubu noted that the principle which has been practiced in several states becomes imminent based on the fact that by the provisions of the 2010 Electoral Act (as amended), the time for replacement and substitution of candidates had elapsed.
He insisted that the same principle must be implemented in Anambra Central, noting that the commission cannot apply one principle in a particular state and a different one in the others.
Yakubu said: “The Anambra Central Senatorial election was among the 80 elections that were nullified after the 2015 exercise. We were ordered to conduct the re-run and we mobilised for that, but there were issues. It has been the standard practice of the commission that where an election is conducted, and nullified by the court on the account of candidate’s disqualification, the disqualified candidate cannot participate in the re-run election and the party of the disqualified candidate cannot also nominate a replacement. This is because the 60-day period for the nomination of candidate for election has elapsed, and then the candidate cannot be replaced because the 40 days period for replacement of candidate has also elapsed”.
“We are happy that not long ago, the Supreme Court has given a favourable judgement on one of the cases. Also, the lower court has recently given a judgement stating that INEC was right on its decision,” he said.
Yakubu said that INEC had met with representatives of the political parties and agreed that based on those judgements, the commission would withdraw its case in the Appeal Court challenging one of the decisions and “we urge the other parties to do the same and embrace the Alternative Dispute Resolution process and with that we are sure that very soon we will overcome all other challenges to conduct the Anambra Central rerun, which is the only pending senatorial election in the country.”
Meanwhile, INEC has released the timetable and schedule for the Anambra State governorship election, fixed for November 18, 2017
The commission said that the tenure of Governor Willie Obiano will expire on March 16, 2018, and in pursuant of Section 178(1) and (2) and Section 25(7) and (8) of the nation’s constitution, that the earliest date for the election into the office shall be October 18, 2017, while the latest date shall be February 4, 2018.
From the schedule, the commencement of campaign by aspirants and political parties is August 18 while the collection of forms by political parties at the INEC office is between August 23 and 25. The political parties will also be expected to issue the nomination forms to their candidates on the same date, while all the parties are expected to conclude their primaries, including the resolution of disputes from the exercise before September 2.
INEC asked the political parties to submit completed Form C001 and C002 before September 18 and the withdrawal and replacement of candidates before October 4.
The commission will publish the final list of candidates on October 19 and the submission of names of political party agents will take place on October 3, while campaign will end on November 16.