INEC: We Have No Power to Disqualify Any Candidate

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By Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that it has no power to reject any candidate presented by political parties ahead of the 2019 general election.
A member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Abdulrrafiu Baruwa had filed a suit seeking the disqualification of the APC governorship candidate in Ogun State, Dapo Abiodun, for next year’s polls over alleged false information.
But, the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi, told THISDAY that: “INEC does not have the power to reject any candidate presented by a political party for an election.”

The suit filed at a Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court in Abuja, asked the court to disqualify Abiodun from the race over “false information” contained in the academic qualification he submitted to INEC.
Baruwa prayed the court to declare that Abiodun’s refusal to disclose all his educational qualifications as demanded by INEC in FORM CF 001 amounts to false information.
He also went to court seeking to declare that APC is not at liberty to apply double standards in clearing or disqualifying persons aspiring for elective offices.

Baruwa also seeks a proper construction of the Forms CF 001 filled and Abiodun submitted to INEC for the 2015 senatorial election and 2019 governorship election.
The plaintiff also urged the court to disqualify Abiodun as the candidate of the APC having regard to the false information contained in his Form CF 001 submitted to INEC.
Baruwa also asked the court to declare Jimi Lawal, the aspirant with the second highest votes in the APC primary, as the candidate of the APC in the governorship poll.
Abiodun was alleged to have declared only his West African School Certificate (1978) in the Form CF001 submitted to INEC on October 23, 2018.

However, when he ran as the APC senatorial candidate for Ogun East in 2015, he claimed to have attended the University of Ife, Ile-Ife (graduating in 1986) and Kennesaw State University, Atlanta Georgia, US (1989) in his INEC form CF001, backed by an affidavit he swore to at the High Court, Abeokuta, Ogun State.
Abiodun’s decision not to include the two degrees in the form CF001 submitted for the 2019 election fuelled suspicion that he did not undergo the compulsory National Youth Service – which is punishable under the law – even though he finished his first degree in 1986.

Baruwa noted that the APC candidate graduated from University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) before 30 years, but neither participated in the mandatory national youth service nor obtained any exemption certificate.

Abiodun was born on May 29, 1960 and was 26 in 1986 when he claimed to have finished his first degree. The age limit for national service is 30.