…Lawan, Akpabio, Umahi missing
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has stated that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has no valid candidate for the Yobe North Senatorial District for next year’s general election. Featuring in Channels Television’s evening programme, Politics Today, INEC’s National Electoral Commissioner for information and Voter Education, Mr. Festus Okoye stated that the law court will determine the rightful candidate of the party.
Two claimants, incumbent President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan and a chieftain of the APC, Alhaji Bashir Machina are jostling for the ticket of the party. While Machina is believed to have won the primaries conducted by the party at Government House, Gashua unopposed but the leadership of the party opted to submit the name of the Lawan who had initially contested the presidential ticket of the party.
Okoye who quoted extant laws such as the Electoral Act said though the commission acknowledged that Machina won the primaries observed by INEC but that it would not be obligated to recognize Lawan because he did not emerge through duly conducted party primaries. “If a political party submits the name of a candidate that did not participate or emerge from a party primary, the commission is not obligated to publish the name of such a candidate,” Okoye said while commenting on the status of Lawan and Machina.
The INEC however stated Machina’s fate hinges on the decision of the High Court as the commission has no power to insist that he is the validly nominated candidate of the APC for Yobe North. “If a particular party submits the name of a candidate that didn’t not participate in party primaries, the only person who has the locus standi to intervene is such a matter is the candidate that participated in such party primaries and believes that he won the primaries and not the candidate that was submitted. That candidate can utilize the provisions of Section 285 of the Electoral Act to seek redress in a law court.
“In that instance, the name of the candidate can now come up by a court order. Apart from that, if the party doesn’t submit the name of the candidate that won the party primaries, the commission cannot bring in a name thereafter.” Okoye said. The electoral body however, did not publish the names of the President of the Nigerian Senate, Ahmad Lawan, whose name had earlier been submitted by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) as the candidate for Yobe North, that of former Akwa Ibom State governor, Godswill Akpabio and Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State. There were speculations that Bachir Machina, who had earlier been declared by the APC as winner of the primary election for Yobe North, was asked to step down for Ahmad Lawan, who currently represents the district.