INEC Refusing To Replace Shekarau, Others – NNPP
The Independent National Electoral Commission was charged by the New Nigerian People’s Party on Thursday for refusing to replace candidates who left the party for other platforms.
The party bemoaned the fact that, one month before the elections, INEC has refused to comply with orders from the Court of Appeal and the Federal High Court in Abuja directing it to accept the names of new candidates submitted to it to replace those who withdrew their candidacies and resigned from the party.
Former Kano State Governor Ibrahim Shekarau (Kano Central Senatorial District), Ibrahim Mikra (Taraba South Senatorial District), and Yahaya, the party’s deputy governorship candidate for Yobe State were among the ANPP candidates who quit the party but had not yet been replaced by INEC.
He said, “We are aware of a grand plot to deliberately sabotage NNPP and deprive our great party of the opportunity to field candidates for these critical positions.
“The party approached the Federal High Court, Abuja Division, on September 12, 2022, by an originating summons on whether upon the proper interpretation of Sections 29(1), 31 and 33 of the Electoral Act 2022, the defendant (INEC) has the constitutional and statutory powers to prevent the Plaintiff NNPP from conducting fresh primaries and replacing their candidates who have voluntarily withdrawn from the race to contest the 2023 general election?
“The NNPP sought an order directing INEC to allow the party to submit the names of all the candidates it wants to replace with those who voluntarily withdrew their candidature for the 2023 general election and publish their names.
“Delivering judgement in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/632/2022, on November 11, 2022, Justice Z B. Abubakar stated that the candidates who withdrew their candidature and resigned their membership of the plaintiff cease to be the Plaintiff’s candidates/or members as such the defendant (INEC) cannot impose them on the plaintiff, stressing that the action of INEC in imposing those candidates on the NNPP is an assault on the extant provisions of Sections 65(2)(b), 106(d), 177(c) and 187(1) and (2) of the 1999 Constitution which made it mandatory that, for a person to be qualified to contest the election, he must be a member of a political party and sponsored by that political party.
“Justice Abubakar granted the five reliefs sought by the party.
“In a well-calculated effort to frustrate the party, INEC appealed the judgement of the Federal High Court in appeal number CA/ABJ/CV/1295/2022.
“In its judgement delivered on January 3, 2023, by Justice I. B. Gafai, the court declared, “On the whole therefore, both issues having been resolved against the Appellant (INEC), this Appeal ends as one without merit, liable to be and is hereby dismissed. The judgement of the lower court is thus affirmed.”
Justices Hamma Akawu Barka and Muslim Sule Hassan also in the panel dismissed INEC’s appeal as lacking in merit.
“It is this clear judgement and order of the appellate court on January 3, 2023, that INEC has refused to comply with and dissipate energy and resources on a wild goose chase to frustrate NNPP from fielding candidates for these positions. It is unacceptable, unjust and unpatriotic.
“The party demands immediate replacement of its former candidates who voluntarily withdrew from the party as directed by the Court of Appeal. INEC cannot impose candidates on our great party. It is unfair, anti-democratic and impunity of the worst order.
“All lovers of democracy in Nigeria should resist this open defiance to Court of Appeal judgement and order. Nigeria is not a Banana Republic where laws are recklessly subverted by maximum rulers and agencies. INEC is not above the law. It cannot choose which judgement of the court of competent jurisdiction to obey.”
Agbo urged the commission to be mindful of its actions and reactions so as not to derail the electoral process.
According to him, INEC has the enormous task of conducting free, fair and transparent elections to meddle in the internal affairs of a political party in flagrant violation of its mandate.
“Adopting a delay tactic by chasing a wild goose across the country is the height of rascality.
“The nation’s electoral process must be sanitized, strengthened and deepened by all stakeholders.
“INEC must justify the confidence Nigerians reposed in it and do the right thing,” he added.