The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has warned political parties against nominating ineligible candidates for the September 19 and October 10 governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states. INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who gave the warning at the 2020 first regular meeting with Resident Electoral Commissioners in Abuja yesterday, also urged the parties to avoid rancorous primaries.
The warning came on the heels of the February 13 Supreme Court judgment which sacked Bayelsa governor-elect, David Lyon of the APC, on the account that his running mate, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, who submitted fake certificates to INEC.
Yakubu said: “The end of tenure governorship elections in Edo and Ondo are holding later in the year. Given recent experiences with some governorship elections, political parties need to do more to avoid the conduct of acrimonious primaries or failure to observe due diligence in the screening of their candidates, resulting in protracted litigations and eventual determination of the outcome of elections by orders of court.”
The meeting was attended by Dr. Jonson Alalibo Sinikem (Cross River State) and Mr. Umar Mukhtar Gajiram (Taraba State) for the first time after their swearing-in last month.
Yakubu also said the commission would display the personal particulars, including academic qualifications, of all the candidates nominated by the parties for the Edo and Ondo elections.
According to him, this would give the citizens the opportunity to scrutinise the particulars of candidates and take legal actions against those who present false information to the commission.
The INEC chairman said this would help check the trend of courts determining the outcome of elections as had happened in recent times.
“I wish to draw the attention of political parties to two critical dates in the timetable released by the commission a few weeks ago. Party primaries for the democratic election and nomination of candidates for the governorship election in Edo State must be held from 2nd to 27th June 2020. The date for Ondo State is 2nd to 25th July 2020. The commission will not extend the dates. We will also rigorously monitor the primaries and where necessary, apply sanctions as provided by law,” he added.
He said the personal particulars of candidates would be displayed on July 6 in Edo State and on August 4 in Ondo State, and urged citizens to note the dates and seize the opportunity to scrutinise the information provided on oath by the candidates in the interest of democracy and good governance.
He added that the commission had released the timetable and schedule of activities for by-elections to fill vacancies in Magama/Rijau Federal Constituency in Niger State, Babura/Garki Federal Constituency in Jigawa State, Patigi State Constituency in Kwara State and Kebbi State Constituency in Sokoto State.
“Going by the timetable, the period for the conduct of party primaries and nomination of candidates has lapsed. Four political parties have nominated candidates for the Magama/Rijau Federal Constituency, three parties for Babura/Garki Federal Constituency, six parties for Patigi State Constituency and seven parties for Kebbe State Constituency. The elections are scheduled to hold simultaneously in the four states on Saturday 14 March 2020,” he said.