By Chuks Okocha
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) at the weekend stated that the African Action Congress (AAC) did not submit its nomination for the Edo State governorship election, using the dedicated portal, even though the access code was given to the party.
INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye disclosed this to journalists in Abuja.
Okoye gave the clarification while fielding question on the accusation by the AAC that the INEC, in spite monitoring its primary, omitted the party on the commission’s published list for candidates for the Edo State governorship election scheduled for September 19, 2020.
He said though the AAC conducted its primary election which was monitored by the commission, the party did not submit its nomination to INEC using the dedicated portal designed by the commission for political parties to submit their nominations.
Okoye said all the 15 political parties that conducted primaries for the purpose of nominating candidates for the governorship election gave INEC the mandatory 21days notice of their intention to do so in compliance with section 85(1) of the Electoral Act 2010(as amended).
The INEC chief noted that by section 85(2) of the same Act, the commission may, with or without prior notice to a political party, attend and observe any congress or convention convened by it for the purpose of nominating candidates for an election at any level.
He noted that INEC monitored the party primary elections conducted by all the 15 political parties that gave notice of their intention to conduct primaries, including the AAC.
According to him, “In compliance with section 87(4((b)(ii), political parties that conducted valid primaries are expected to forward to the INEC the name of the aspirant with the highest number of votes at the end of voting, who shall be declared as the winner of the primaries.
“The submission of the name of the candidate is the exclusive preserve of political parties. A political party may conduct primaries and decide not to field candidates for election.
“The Commission is not permitted to force any political party to sponsor candidates for any election or to query a party for non-submission of the list of its candidate(s).
“In line with our supplementary regulations and guidelines, the commission created a dedicated portal for the submission of the names of candidates and made available an access code to the chairmen of the 15 political parties that conducted primaries.
“The commission also established a help desk and dedicated a number of staff and telephone lines to a cluster of the political parties in case of challenges.”