INEC denies recognising Lawan, Akpabio as senatorial candidates
The Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) has denied a media report that it had since accorded recognition to Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, and former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Honourable Godswill Akpabio, as the senatorial candidates for Yobe North and Akwa-Ibom North West, respectively.
Checks revealed that the electoral umpire had maintained that the All Progressives Congress (APC) had no candidate for Yobe North as the party failed to present Bashir Machina who won its primary as a candidate.
In Akwa-Ibom, both the former minister, Akpabio and former Deputy Inspector General of Police, Udom Udo Ekpoudom, have consistently laid claim to the party ticket for Akwa Ibom North West with the State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mike Iginni proclaiming Ekpoudom as the winner of primary monitored by INEC.
Ekpoudom said he duly participated in the Akwa Ibom North West APC Senatorial District Primary Election held on May 27, 2022, and won in line with the 2023 Election Timetable and Guideline.
The former minister on the other hand said he won convincingly at a separate rerun primary at the instance of the APC national secretariat.
But an online publication had reported that both Machina and Ekpoudom had lost out in the power game in the APC, alleging that the ruling party and certain forces in the electoral agency had since listed the Senate President and former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs as candidates in their respective senatorial districts in both Yobe and Akwa-Ibom.
But Festus Okoye, National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, in a statement on Tuesday dismissed the report by the online platform as misleading and unfounded.
Okoye maintained that at no time did INEC publish the particulars of the senate president and former minister of Niger Delta Affairs as senatorial candidates.
“The forms of the two personalities in question were not published by the commission,” he declared.
The INEC national commissioner further disclosed that “for the record, the commission has not recognised any of the two personalities as senatorial candidates.”
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Okoye’s statement titled, “Spurious Allegations in Respect of Nomination of Candidates in some Senatorial Districts” read in part: “Not for the first time, our attention has been drawn to a story published by an online medium that the commission has doctored, backdated and certified documents to accommodate the nominations emanating from Yobe North and Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial Districts in respect of Senators Ahmed Lawan and Godswill Akpabio. Nothing can be further from the truth.
“As evidence of the alleged role played by the commission, a certified true copy of Form 9C uploaded by their political party and received by the commission on 17th June 2022 when the nomination portal closed was presented.
“For clarity, the Form EC9 (submission of names of candidates by political parties) is the Form uploaded by parties on the INEC nomination portal. This is clearly indicated on the title of the Form which was received on 17th June 2022 when the portal closed.
“What follows is the publication of the personal particulars of nominated candidates which was done a week later. The forms of the two personalities in question were not published by the commission. The decision of the commission triggered legal action which is still ongoing. It, therefore, defies logic and common sense to go around and submit doctored documents purportedly recognising the duo as candidates when the matter is clearly sub-judice.
“As part of the ongoing case in court, a law firm requested the commission for a Certified True Copy (CTC) of the Form EC9 submitted by the All Progressives Congress (APC) as its candidate for Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District which we are duty bound to oblige them under the law. The form was certified on 15th July 2022. If minimum care has been exercised by the promoters of the story, they would have seen the two stamps of the commission bearing different dates on the form. It is this form that is now misconstrued as INEC’s endorsement.
“For the record, the commission has not recognised any of the two personalities as a senatorial candidate.
“We call for responsible reportage as against the unwarranted attack on the commission and its officials over a matter than can be easily fact checked.”