SANs, CSOs To INEC: You Must Reject Candidates Who Didn’t Participate In Primaries - THE ENCOUNTER NEWS


Monday, June 20, 2022

SANs, CSOs To INEC: You Must Reject Candidates Who Didn’t Participate In Primaries

ABUJA - Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to reject candidates whose names were submitted to them by their political parties but did not stand for primary election.

The CSOs also took a swipe at political parties who substituted names of candidates that stood for the primary elections, replacing them with influential politicians that were not part of that electoral process.

The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has presented names of some influential politicians that did not stand for primary election as their candidates in place of candidates who went through the usual process, an action greeted with widespread condemnation.

But speaking on the issue they described as injustice, the CSOs said that political parties must not be allowed to promote impunity, adding that the court had already taken a position on such undemocratic acts.

The CSOs which spoke to LEADERSHIP are the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) Transparency International (TI) and the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC).

Speaking through their leader, Awwal Musa Rafsanjani, the CSOs said politicians must not be allowed to do what they want, adding that they are the greatest beneficiaries of the democracy they are working hard to destroy.

“This is going to be an act of insincerity by those who are doing that and also INEC that was empowered to go and observe the primary election, ” Rafsanjani said while reacting to the substitution of names of candidates that stood for the political parties’ primary elections.

“How can somebody who did not participate in a primary election stand for the general election?” Rafsanjani said.

“Nigerians should learn from the previous judgements. If this thing has happened in the past and the court nullified the election of those who did not contest in the primary and used their positions to get their way, the court’s judgment will always speak against them.

“The people that are doing this, they are used to impunity and therefore INEC must have the courage to reject that kind of impunity.

“People contested in that primary election. For INEC to have come and accepted the name of someone who did not participate in the primaries they supervised, it is a breach of the law,” the CSOs said.

While calling on political parties and the electoral umpire to give Nigerians the confidence that will help democracy to thrive, the CSO said INEC must remain independent and do the right thing no matter who is involved.

“The confidence that Nigerians have on the electoral umpire, that kind of impunity can make Nigerians lose that confidence. They can also lose the confidence in the electoral integrity, democracy and credibility of the process and the electoral process will suffer.

“We urge INEC to stick by its rules and regulations. We urge political parties to also stay away from this kind of impunity. Whoever is the individual pushing for these undemocratic tendencies when primaries have already been conducted, this must not be accommodated by INEC and the political parties.”

They urged collective action against those who want to undermine democracy in the country even as they declared that politicians must not be allowed to derail Nigeria’s democracy, which they are the greatest beneficiaries.

“For democracy to thrive, transparency must be adhered to, ” the CSOs insisted.

Case of Lawan, Akpabio Clear Violation Of Electoral Act – SANs

Senior lawyers in Nigeria have reacted to the replacement of the names of winners of primary elections with non-partakers in the intra-party polls, describing it as unlawful.

Kayode Enitan (SAN) said INEC cannot accept the name of a candidate that did not participate in a primary in line with Sections 31 and 33 of the Electoral Act.

He said, “There are specific grounds for substitution of candidates after the primary election, as clearly provided in Sections 31 and 33 of the Electoral Act, and these are  voluntary withdrawal by the candidate or death of the candidate.

He said, “Where a candidate withdraws or dies, a fresh primary election must mandatorily be conducted by the party.

“INEC can, therefore, not accept replacement names that didn’t come out of the conduct of fresh primaries after the withdrawal or death of a candidate.”

Matthew Buka (SAN) noted that the law is very clear on the mode of presentation of candidates for elections by political parties and that no one can contest elections without participating in the party’s primary.

Buka said, “By the provisions of Section 84(5) C(ii) of the Electoral Act, no political party can just foist anybody on other contestants, unless they all withdraw or step down voluntarily and in writing.

“Even when the law is followed in this regard, a new primary must be conducted to fill the vacancy. Anything short of this is unlawful and must be challenged in court within 14 days.”

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