The Abuja division of the Federal High Court on Thursday cleared the governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) Natasha Akpoti to participate in the November 16 governorship election in Kogi State.
The court in a judgement delivered yesterday, held that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) lacks the constitutional powers to disqualify the candidate from contesting the election.
The trial judge, Justice Ogunbiyi-Giwa held that INEC has no power to disqualify any candidate for an election as it is the exclusive preserve of a competent court of law.
Citing the provisions of sections 31(1) and 83 of the Electoral Act Justice Ogunbiyi – Giwa noted that INEC cannot disqualify or reject candidate nominated by a political party for an election is aimed at ensuring that it does not lie within the executive realm of INEC to determine who participates in an election, adding that the intention of the law is to make INEC a truly unbiased umpire.
She, accordingly, ordered the electoral body to include her name and that of her running mate, Adams Khalid on the ballot paper for the November 16 polls.
Akpoti and her deputy, Adams Khalid, and the SDP had approached the court to challenge their exclusion from the 2019 Kogi State governorship election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), after the commission refused to accept the candidature of Khalid in replacement of the earlier nominated deputy governorship candidate, Mohammed Yakubu, who was disqualified for not meeting the age requirement for the position.