By Ameh Ejekwonyilo
A human rights lawyer, Dr. Kayode Ajulo, has faulted the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for accepting names of all candidates submitted by the All Progressives Congress ahead of the 2019 general elections despite the pendency of series of lawsuits across the country.
Ajulo noted that in spite of the illegality that characterized the primary election in several states, INEC out of sentiment for the Party, accepted list of candidates.
According to him, INEC’s action showed lack of commitment to free and fair electoral process.
The former National Secretary of the Labour Party (LP) and Founder, Egalitarian Mission for Africa, spoke recently in Abuja following the crisis that emanated from APC primaries and which has become subject of litigation.
He said: “When a given political association or party cannot operate a fair and just internal democracy, especially when it cannot organise acceptable party primaries within its fold, it is futile to wait on such party to tolerate any meaningful interparty electoral contest.
“What the ruling All Progressives Party (APC) called party primaries, what it gave Nigeria in the near past, failed ordinary tests of a civilised democracy.”
According to Ajulo, INEC, patently compromised the very provision that birthed its existence, looking aside while the Constitution and the electoral law were being violated.
“The regulations are quite clear and handy for stakeholders to adopt or implement. Among other conditions for party primaries, the regulations says that no political party shall set criteria or conditions to pre-qualify an aspirant to contest in its primaries as candidate except such conditions are in line with the 1999 Constitution, the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), the Constitution of the party, as approved by the Commission, as well as the regulations, guidelines and directives of the Commission.
“With the exception of Zamfara State, where INEC has discountenanced the State’s primaries and lists of candidates as well as Rivers States where but for the involvement of our courts, APC primaries and its candidates were rejected, a preponderance of the controversial lists of candidates submitted to INEC fell short of the minimum conditions for party primaries”, he stated.