Concerns Mount over Swapping of Authentic List of APC Parliamentary Candidates in Akwa Ibom

Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja

The authentic list of candidates who emerged during the Senatorial and House of Representatives primaries in Akwa Ibom, may have been swapped by the All Progressives (APC) leadership in the state, THISDAY learnt yesterday.
It was further gathered that while those who emerged through the election monitored by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) are now left in the lurch, the party in breach of the law, has uploaded a different list on the website of the electoral umpire.

For the senatorial primaries in the state, the APC candidates’ list monitored by the state office and sent to INEC headquarters from Akwa Ibom state office include: Dr. Ndem Ndoudo Ndem (Akwa Ibom North-east), Udom Udo Ekpoudum (Akwa Ibom North-west, while for Akwa Ibom South, it indicated that no primary was held.

But in a shocking move, the party in the state has uploaded Ukpong Emayak Nkangha for Akwa Ibom North-east, Udo Inyang Martyns Denis for Akwa Ibom South, while for Akwa Ibom North-west, no candidate’s name was published.
Similarly, the authentic list of House of Representatives candidates showed that candidates who emerged lawfully were: Jimbo Inemesit Clement for the Abak/etim Ekpo/ika federal constituency; Itu/ Ibiono Ibom had Uwemedimo Eibio Umoh while Etinan/ Nsit Ibium/Nsit Ibom had Dr.victor Archibong Mkpong.

Also, for Ekek/ Ona/ Esit Eket/ Ibeno,  Kingsley Edoho emerged lawfully; in Ikot Abasi/ Mkpat Enin/Eastern Obolo, Ntuk Ernest Emmanuel was elected; in Ukanafun/ Orukanam, Sunday Joseph emerged even as Akanimo Ituen was validly picked for the Uyo/uruan/ Nsit Atai/ Ibesikpo federal constituency.

Further included in the authentic list of validly elected candidates were: Inimfon Aniekan Nelson for Ikot Ekpene/essien Udim/Obot Akara and Albert Asuquo Victor for Oron/ Mbo/ Okobo/Uruefun/Uk.
However, in utter disregard for the law,  THISDAY understood that names of candidates not in the report of primaries monitored by the state office of INEC, have been  uploaded  by the party and published on the INEC portal.

They include: Jimbo Inemesit Clement for Abak/etim Ekpo/ika while for Itu/ Ibiono Ibom , Udeme Mfoon, emerged.
Furthermore, Etinan/ Nsit Ibium/Nsit Ibom produced Oho Glory Ekpo; in Ekek/ Ona/ Esit Eket/ Ibeno, it was  Eyibo Eseme Sunday while in Ikot Abasi/ Mkpat Enin/Eastern Obolo,  Ntuk Ernest Emmanuel was listed.

In Ukanafun/ Orukanam constituency, the name of Ibritim Freedom appeared on the controversial list,  in Uyo/uruan/ Nsit Atai/ Ibesikpo, it was Okokon Nsikak Etim, in Ikot Ekpene/Essien Udim/Obot Akara, it was Umoh Patrick Patrick, while the name of Edumoh Robinson Effiong was wrongly uploaded as having won in Oron/ Mbo/ Okobo/Uruefun/Uk.
For Uyo/Uruan/Nsit Atai/Ibesikpo/Asutan federal constituency, no name was published.

Last week, respected lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) who waded into the matter, argued that Section: 84 (13) of the electoral act clearly provides that: “Where a political party fails to comply with the provisions of this Act in the conduct of its primaries, its candidate for election shall not be included in the election for the particular position in issue”.

Furthermore, he maintained that Section 29 (1) of the Electoral Act, 2022 which provides for the submission of lists of candidates and their affidavits by political parties states that: “Every political party shall…submit to the Commission, in the prescribed forms, the list of the candidates the party proposes to sponsor at the elections, who must have emerged from valid primaries conducted by the political party.

According to him, this means that section 29(1) thereof has imposed a duty on political parties to ensure that the candidates whose names are submitted to INEC have emerged from valid primaries.
Falana argued that this position was different from the provision in Section 31 of the repealed Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) which provided that INEC could not reject the name of any candidate submitted by the parties for any reason whatsoever.

“Thus, in the present law, the parties can only submit for the Commission’s acceptance the names of candidates who emerged from valid primaries conducted by the parties and monitored by INEC.
“This position is clearly fortified by Section 84(13).  Thus, INEC having sent a team of monitors across its 36 States offices and the Federal Capital Territory, to monitor the primaries, is legally obligated to check the names submitted to it and ensure they are confirmed by the various reports compiled by its officials,” he affirmed.

The senior lawyer said that if  the candidates whose names are submitted to INEC have not emerged from the primaries, the Commission will reject such names in exercise of its power under Section 84(13) of the Electoral Act 2022.
Also in his intervention, Director, Abuja School of Social and Political Thoughts, an intellectual and policy think-tank led by Sam Amadi,  called on INEC to reject what he termed the fraudulent and false submission of candidates by the parties.

“Submitting names of persons who did not win duly conducted primaries on INEC portals is contrary to the electoral law. The electoral law requires that only persons who won duly conducted primaries should be submitted as candidates.
“ It is INEC that determines what is a duly conducted primary, based on its guidelines and the electoral law. The practice in the past where INEC allowed parties to make wrong and fraudulent entries and hoped that the courts will reverse them has gone,” he argued.

 Quoting Section 84 (1) of the Electoral Act, 2022, he stated that it provides that: “A political party seeking to nominate candidates for elections under this Act shall hold primaries for the aspirants to all elective positions which shall be monitored by the Commission”.

In addition, he stressed that the extant provisions in the Electoral Act aim to ensure that only candidates who win duly conducted primaries are presented for elections.

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