Section 31 of the Electoral Act only allows for substitution when a candidate dies or when he or she withdraws from the race and informs the INEC in writing. The section reads…
“A candidate may withdraw his or her candidature by notice in writing signed by him and delivered personally by the candidate to the political party that nominated him for the election and the political party shall convey such withdrawal to the commission not later than 90 days to the election”
Both Lawan (Yobe North) and Akpabio (Akwa Ibom North-East) sought albeit unsuccessfully to fly the presidential ticket of the APC in the recently concluded primary election of the party held in Abuja. Consequently, both politicians returned to claim their Senatorial district ticket having failed to secure their presidential ambitions. While Lawan tagged “Consensus candidate” lost out after securing 152 votes, Akpabio stepped down for the eventual winner Bola Ahmed Tinubu who polled 1,271 votes in the contest. However, the moves by Lawan and Akpabio to obtain their senatorial ticket for next year’s election after losing out in the APC presidential primary have left them swimming in troubled waters.
The primaries which took place at Gashua town on May 28, 2022, saw Machina garnering the 289 votes as the sole candidate, even though Lawan obtained all the necessary expression of interest and nomination forms from the party was said to have failed to fill and submit them and did not also submit himself for the party screening. All efforts by Lawan and Associates of the APC in mounting pressure on Machina to get him to relinquish the ticket have proved abortive despite the party’s national leadership intervention.
Similarly, the submission to INEC by APC of Senator Godswill Akpabio to contest the 2023 Akwa-Ibom North-East Senate seat is viewed as an exercise in futility having been proved as untenable under the provisions of the 2022 Electoral Act. The Question is Senator Godswill Akpabio was he an aspirant when the primary Election for the Akwa- Ibom (North-West) senatorial district was conducted? He was not there; He had been a presidential aspirant up to the last day of the APC presidential Convention in Abuja. This was what he participated in. Without INEC oversight many political parties would have continued the tradition of violating the norms in the choice of their candidate. Submitting the names of persons who did not win duly conducted primaries is contrary to the Electoral Act, The Electoral Act requires that only persons who won duly conducted primaries should be submitted as the candidates.
The INEC has the power to reject candidates who were not properly nominated through a valid primary monitored by the Commission. Section 84(1) clearly states that
‘’ A political party seeking to nominate a candidate for elections under this act shall hold primaries for aspirants to all elective positions which shall be monitored by the Commission”
The monitoring by INEC is mandatory; any primary of a political party not monitored by INEC is illegal. Section 84(11) unequivocally provides that
“Where a political party fails to comply with the provisions of this ACT in the conduct of its primaries its candidate for election shall not be included in the election for the particular position in issue”
The legal implication of the provision is that INEC shall not include the candidate for the particular election.
Furthermore, Section 29(1) of the Electoral Act 2022 provides that
“Every political party shall not later than 180 days before the date appointed for a general election under this Act, Submit to the commission in the prescribed Forms the list of the candidates the party proposes to sponsor at the elections who must have emerged from valid primaries conducted by the political party”
From the foregoing, Section 29(1) thereof has imposed a duty on political parties to ensure that the candidates whose names are submitted to INEC have emerged from valid primaries. This is different from the provision of Section 31 of the repealed Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) which provides that INEC could not reject the name of any candidate submitted by the political parties for any reason whatsoever.
Consequently, if the candidates whose names were submitted to INEC have not emerged from valid primaries monitored by the commission, INEC will reject such names in the exercise of its powers under Section 84(11) of the Electoral Act 2022.
In Conclusion, it means if Senator Lawan’s name and Akpabio are inserted onto the list of APC candidates without due process, INEC will reject such names. It’s my opinion that someone cannot be a nominee for two different elective positions simultaneously, that’s Senatorial and Presidential. This will be like rubbishing and making a complete mockery of our already heavenly tainted democratic process. HASSAN SADISU IMAM is a Lawyer who graduated from the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University Zaria Kaduna Nigeria; He has a keen interest in Constitutional Law and Various aspects of Commercial Law. He has authored many articles on diverse contemporary legal issues; He can be reached via;
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