…Says they are not recognized as senatorial candidates
By Mike Odiakose
Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has dashed the aspiration of the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan representing Yobe North and Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom North West to contest for senatorial seats in 2023.
The commission in a statement by the National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, on Tuesday said the duo is not recognised as candidates for 2023 senatorial elections.
Senators Lawan and Akpabio contested for the presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress, APC, but after losing out in the contest they were reported to have emerged as APC senatorial candidates, in their senatorial districts.
This development triggered protests by the candidates that won the APC senatorial contests in the two senatorial districts in Yobe and Akwa Ibom state.
On Tuesday night INEC also denied doctoring and backdating documents to accommodate the nominations of the two senatorial candidates.
Okoye said: “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”.
Mr. Okoye added that: “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 are 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”, Okoye added.