• It was a self-inflicted injury, INEC replies

By Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti

The Providence Peoples Congress (PPC) has threatened legal action against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for allegedly disqualifying and expunging the name of its governorship candidate, Pastor Stephen Obasola, from the list of candidates that will participate in the July 14 election in Ekiti State.

Obasola, according to the party, emerged through a primary supervised by INEC at the party’s secretariat located at Okesa area in Ado Ekiti, alleging that the PPC standard-bearer was technically disqualified from the race without reason.

The PPC’s National Chairman, Mr. Benson Adetona, who addressed pressmen in Ado-Ekiti on Monday, said the party on May 14 submitted forms CF01 and CF02 to INEC in Abuja in compliance with the commission’s guidelines, when the party submitted the name of the candidate.

He wondered why the party would have to be punished unjustifiably, even when it submitted the candidate’s name a day earlier than the May 15 stipulated by INEC.

Adetona accused a certain officer in the office of the INEC’s National Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, of playing pranks on the party, by rejecting the forms earlier listed on flimsy excuses that they were not attached with forms EC4, EC5 and EC6, which he claimed were irrelevant in this case.

The party boss said when it was obvious that INEC was not ready to correct the anomaly that the PPC national body resorted to petition, which they addressed to Prof. Yakubu on May 18, saying no reply was given up till now by the commission.

“The fact that the name of our candidate was listed by INEC as one of the 40 contenders that were acknowledged from Ekiti office of INEC showed that our primary was free, fair and credible, because our party operates like a family. There is no division.

“When we took forms CF01 and CF02 to the INEC Electoral Party Monitoring Department in Abuja, the officer detailed for the collection said they have to be attached with forms EC 4 and EC 5. But we told him the submission lapsed on May 15. He convinced us that we should not mind that we can come on May 17 or 18, because of our peculiar situation.

“We got there on May 17 only for the same staff to reject our form. We were referred to head of Legal Department and Electoral Party Monitoring, but nothing was done.

“We viewed this action as a serious infringement on our fundamental rights to have a candidate in Ekiti election. And this was a setback to our electoral system. Election can only be deemed to be free and fair when INEC is fair to all parties.

“As things stand now, we have no option than to seek legal redress in court to ensure that our candidate participate in this election,” he said.

The INEC Public Relations Officer in Ekiti, Taiwo Gbadegesin, said INEC has no blame in the whole scenario, describing the situation as a self-inflicted injury.

“Submission of candidates is done by the party, so PPC executive should be blamed for submitting the name of candidate late. I want to believe that INEC as an arbiter can’t disqualify candidate without justifiable reason. PPC must look inward to settle its problems,” he said.