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2019: INEC, Oshiomhole at war over APC primaries

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2019: INEC, Oshiomhole at war over APC primaries

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday wielded the big stick against the All Progressives Congress (APC), barring the party from fielding candidates for the governorship, National Assembly and House of Assembly positions in Zamfara State in 2019.

National Chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, has fired back, insisting that the commission cannot bar the party from fielding candidates in Zamfara State.

Acting Secretary of the Commission, Okechukwu Ndechie, who gave the order, said the ruling party failed to conduct primaries in Zamfara State to choose candidates for the positions within the stipulated time.

In a letter to the APC leadership, the commission noted that the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2019 general elections it released on January 9, fixed conduct of party primaries between August 18 and October 7, 2018.

The commission further observed that APC had, in its letter dated October 3, 2018 with ref No. APC/NHDQ/INEC/19/18/15, notified INEC of the dates of its primaries nationwide, including Zamfara State.

“However, report received from our office in Zamfara State shows that no primaries were conducted by your party in the state, notwithstanding that our officials were fully mobilized and deployed.

 

“Consequently, based on the provisions of Sections 87 and 31 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), the commission does not expect that your party will submit names of any candidate from Zamfara State.

 

“For clarity, our position, therefore, is that the APC will not be fielding candidates for the governorship, National Assembly and state Assembly elections in Zamfara State for the 2019 general elections,” the commission added.

 

Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, confirmed the authenticity of the letter.

 

He said: “Gentlemen, the letter is authentic. But it was a correspondence between the Commission and the APC. It leaked, obviously.”

 

But, Oshiomhole said barring the ruling party from the said elections because the party’s primaries were not conducted the way the INEC expected was pre-emptive and would amount to an illegality.

In a letter personally signed by him, Oshiomhole said what the APC did was consensus rather than direct primaries as earlier scheduled.

 

The letter addressed to the Chairman of INEC read thus: “We refer to your letter on the above subject matter (Ref: lNEC/SEC/654/1/330) dated 9th October, 2018 and addressed to our National Chairman. The contents of your said letter seem to conclude that no primaries were conducted by the APC in Zamfara State.

 

“We wish to state emphatically that nothing can be farther from the actual situation in Zamfara State. Kindly find attached a comprehensive report from the Zamfara Electoral Committee of the All Progressives Congress and signed by all the members on the conduct of primary elections for the Zamfara State held between 6th and 7th October, 2018.”

 

Oshiomhole stated that following the high level of friction, disagreements and threatened violence by various political camps before the primaries, all the aspirants met at City King Hotel, Gusau, to find a truce.

According to him, “After hours of intense horse-trading, a consensus was reached within the spirit and context of the Electoral Act and the constitution of our party on the basis of which a list was produced which was confirmed/affirmed by all delegates present. This was done in strict compliance with section 87 (6) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as Amended).

 

“Therefore, the claim in your letter under reference that “no primaries were concluded by your party in the state, notwithstanding that our officials were fully mobilized and deployed” could only be referring to their observation that actual voting did not take place, which is not the only mode prescribed for producing candidates in the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended). We, therefore, affirm that indeed primaries took place in Zamfara State.”

He told the electoral umpire that it failed to adhere to the principle of fair hearing before taking the position.

 

“Please also refer to the INEC’s Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2019 General Elections released by the Commission on the 9th January, 2018.

“By that timetable, all political parties are expected to submit a list of their candidates on or before 18th of October, 2018, after exhausting all internal procedures for appeals arising out of the congresses.

“As a party, we are in the process of exhausting those internal procedures before forwarding the names of our candidates to you. We are perplexed that you did not wait for us to submit the names of our candidates in Zamfara State (considering that the time within which such submission should take place has not elapsed)  before raising your observation in your letter under reference.

“This is more so when we received no correspondence from the Commission at least to inquire from our party the true state of affairs in Zamfara State, in the spirit of fair hearing, before making haste to write your letter. We, however note that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) did not also hold primaries in Kano, but no such similar letter was written to the PDP in relation to Kano State.

“It is our contention, in the circumstance, that your letter is not only pre-emptive, but your position seems to negate the spirit of any fair hearing and is devoid of legal basis.

“Be informed, that in the spirit of due compliance with the law, we affirm that we shall, indeed, be presenting candidates for Governorship, National Assembly and State Assembly Elections in Zamfara State for the 2019 general elections before the deadline for submission of such names which has been fixed by your Commission on the 18th of October, 2018 and in line with section 87 (6) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended).

“If you raise further observations after you receive our list of candidates, we shall be glad to clarify them.”

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had, earlier in the week, warned INEC against accepting list of candidates from APC in Zamfara for the 2019 general elections.

 

NewTelegraph 

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