29th May 2019
Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu has said that the Commission will no longer accept the list of candidates from political parties under Section 31 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), unless they fully comply with the provisions of Section 87 of the Act.
Prof Yakubu made the assertion in Abuja on 27th May at the presentation of Certificates of Return to the first batch of the new 2019 general election winners in Zamfara state, in compliance with the Supreme Court judgment of 24th May.
Section 31 of the Electoral Act enumerates the procedures every political party must undertake to submit its list of sponsored candidates for an election, while Section 87 lists the process for the emergence of such candidates.
Speaking against the backdrop of the Supreme Court judgment, the INEC Chairman advised political parties to ensure that they conduct proper primaries before elections in order to reduce the spate of litigation associated with them.
He revealed that already, there were 809 pre-election cases pending in various courts across the country challenging the conduct of primaries by political parties for the 2019 general election which, he noted, were “clearly more than the total number of petitions currently before the various election petition tribunals nationwide challenging the outcome of the main elections.”
He averred that the last time the Commission gave an update, a total of 25 certificates of return had been withdrawn and issued to persons declared winners by courts of law. “Since then,” he said, “three more certificates have been withdrawn by court order. With the Zamfara case, the figure has now risen to 64. In addition, the Commission is studying nine more judgments we were served in the last one week, in which primary elections conducted by different political parties were upturned by the courts.”
Prof. Yakubu affirmed that the Zamfara example was not the first pre-election case to be determined by the Supreme Court arising from the recent party primaries. The apex court, he said, “had determined the case of Lere Federal Constituency in Kaduna State, which the Commission had already complied with and issued the certificate of return to the winner.”
He continued: “It is therefore important to continue to emphasise to our political parties their obligation to conduct credible primaries for the nomination of candidates. Our democracy in particular and electoral process in general can never be virile unless political parties rise to the challenge of internal party democracy. It is in this context that the latest judgements of the Supreme Court are crucial steps in strengthening our electoral jurisprudence.
“Going forward, we will not accept the submission of names of candidates by political parties under Sec. 31 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) unless there is evidence, monitored by the Commission, of compliance with the provision of Sec. 87 of the Act. Party members interested in contesting elections start as aspirants before they emerge as candidates through the democratic process of direct or indirect primaries enshrined in Sec. 87 of the Electoral Act. It is only after they comply with this requirement of the law can their names be submitted to INEC under Sec. 31. We shall continue to work with the political parties to ensure strict compliance.”
“Let me once again remind political parties that we have exactly 171 days to the Bayelsa and Kogi governorship elections scheduled for 16th November 2019. Party primaries are scheduled to be conducted between 2ndand 29thAugust 2019. Let us make the two elections shining examples of internal democracy by the way the political parties conduct their primary elections. This will no doubt have a positive impact on the conduct of the proper elections.”
Those who received their certificates include the Governor Elect, Bello Mohammed Matawalle, his deputy, Mahdi Aliyu Gusau, three senators- elect – Ya’u Sahabi, Mohammed Hassan and Lawali Hassan Anka and seven members of the House of Representatives-elect.
The remaining 24 certificates will be presented to the winners of the State Assembly election in Gusau.