Awka – The All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, has disagreed with the position of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, that the party failed to meet its criteria for some processes ahead of its primary election slated for Wednesday.
A letter by the INEC Secretary had alleged that the party failed to notify the Commission of the Adhoc Delegates’ Congress which the party conducted across the 326 wards in Anambra State on the 15th and 16th of June 2021.
The letter with Reference No INEC/DEPM/UPPM/1/145, was dated the 18th of June, 2021 and signed by the Secretary of the Independent National Electoral Commission ( INEC).
But in a statement on Tuesday, the Publicity Secretary of the party, Barr Tex Okechukwu noted that the position of INEC is not in line with the dictates of Section 85(1) of the Electoral Act 2010 as Amended, which he said the party complied with fully.
He noted that APGA, as a responsible entity, has never defaulted in complying with requisite procedural requirements for the nomination of its candidate in the past and will not begin now
“We wish to state categorically that the above position of the Commission is not in line with the dictates of Section 85(1) of the Electoral Act 2010 as Amended, as well as a plethora of judicial authorities in that regard.
“Our party duly complied with requisite statutory notices envisaged under the Electoral Act 2010, as Amended as well as other requirements clearly outlined by INEC in its Regulations and Guidelines for the conduct of political party primary elections published by INEC.
“In line with the said INEC Regulations and Guidelines, our great party undertook the following procedural steps, to wit; Publication of Timetable/Schedule of activities, Statutory Notice of Primary Election dated the 26th of May, 2021 as envisaged under Section 85(1) of the Electoral Act, Conduct of Ad hoc Delegates’ Election across the 326 wards of Anambra State as envisaged under Section 87(7) of the Electoral Act, Submission of the list of democratically-elected Ad hoc Delegates to the Commission in line with Articles 4.5.1 and 4.5.2 of the INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Political Parties primaries; as well as other relevant procedural steps/ requirements,” he said.
The APGA Publicity Secretary, said APGA, as a responsible entity, has never defaulted in complying with requisite procedural requirements for the nomination of its candidate in the past and will not begin now.
“We wish to reassure our esteemed party faithful, stakeholders and, indeed, the general public that our great party is fully prepared to conduct its Governorship Primary Election already slated to hold on 23rd of June 2021.
“Finally, we urge all our members and supporters to continue to pray fervently for the party as we enter the final stages of the successful nomination of our candidate for the November 6, 2021 Governorship Election in Anambra State,” Okechukwu noted.
On his part, a legal practitioner, Barr Ifeatu Obi-Okoye said the issues raised by INEC in both letters are in flagrant violation of the state of the law well settled in the case of shinkafi vs Yari ( sc.907/2015) 2016 NGSC 6 .; decided by the Supreme Court of Nigeria on the 25th of January 2016.
Obi-Okoye said in the determination of the issues raised in the case, the Supreme Court held that “the pit and substance of this case is whether failure to comply with Sections 85 & 87 of the Electoral Act 2010(as amended), is a disqualifying factor for a person duly nominated and sponsored by his political party to contest election as Governor of a State. Accordingly, the Supreme Court held that whereas Sections 85 and 87 of the Electoral Act 2010(as amended) provide for issues of nomination of candidates for elections, Sections 177 and 178 of the 1999 Constitution of the FRN ( as amended), provide for issues relating to qualification and disqualification of candidates seeking for election as Governor.”
He continued; “Consequently, the Supreme Court held that the Electoral Act 2010(as amended), does not state that any political party which fails to give notice of its Congress to INEC will forfeit the right to field a candidate who emanates from such Congress. Accordingly, the Supreme Court held that the punishment for non-compliance with the provisions of section 85 of the said Electoral Act, remains as provided in section 86(4) which merely states that the political party would be liable upon conviction to a fine of not less than 500,000.00 and nothing more.
“In the final analysis, the Supreme Court held regarding the provision of section 87 of the Electoral Act 2010, that the right to nominate and sponsor a candidate by a political party is a domestic right of right of the party, as it remains a political matter, falling within the exclusive discretion of the party. Consequently a Court has no jurisdiction to determine who a political party should sponsor in an election, subject only to the provision of section 87(9) of the Electoral Act”
The legal luminary wished in the circumstances therefore, “to assure all members of APGA, that the said letters, do not represent the current state of the law as decided by the Supreme Court Nigeria in the case of Shinkafi vs Yari mentioned here in and in a plethora of many more cases i did not find need to mention here.”