2023 Elections: INEC Receives 216 Requests for Particulars of Candidates 

*Electoral umpire recognises Akpabio-backed APC faction in Akwa Ibom*Vote-buying may mar Osun governorship poll, say INEC, NSA

Chuks Okocha and Alex Enumah in Abuja

As presidential candidates and other politicians seeking elective offices in the 2023 general election continue to claim that their certificates are missing, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has disclosed that 216 requests have so far been received demanding the particulars of some of the candidates.

The electoral umpire and the National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj. Gen Babagana Monguno (rtd) have also raised the alarm on the potential dangers of vote-buying in the forthcoming July 16 Osun State governorship election.

Also barring any last-minute changes, the name of the former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio will be on the ballot as the senatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the Akwa Ibom North-West in next year’s general election.

This is a sequel to the recognition of the Akpabio-backed Stephen Ntukepko-led leadership of the APC in Akwa Ibom State by INEC.
At a meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) held yesterday in Abuja to review security arrangements for the Osun State governorship election, the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, stated that the number of requests by Nigerians seeking a Certified True Copy (CTC) of the particulars of the candidates has risen to 216.

“Before I conclude, let me seize this opportunity to once again reassure all Nigerians who applied for Certified True Copies (CTCs) of documents arising from the recent party congresses, primaries and nomination of candidates that all requests are being attended to expeditiously despite the huge quantities of documents involved.

“Nigerian election, especially the conduct of primaries for the nomination of candidates by political parties, is one of the most litigated in the world. As of yesterday evening (Friday, July 1, 2022), 216 requests have so far been processed involving the certification of over 1,650,000) pages of documents.
“Indeed, there are now far more cases challenging the breach of internal democracy within political parties than those involving the conduct of the main elections by INEC. We will continue to work round the clock, including the weekends, to ensure that we attend to all applications received at the headquarters of the commission promptly,” Yakubu explained.

According to the documents submitted to INEC, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, in an affidavit submitted to INEC, claimed that he changed his name from Siddiq Abubakar as it appears on his West African School Certificate (WASC), to Atiku Abubakar.
While Atiku was silent on the primary school he attended, he disclosed his General Certificate Education (GCE) results obtained in 1965 and a Higher Certificate (Master’s degree) obtained in 2021.

Also, the presidential flagbearer of the Action Democratic Party (ADP), Sani Yabagi, in an affidavit he submitted to INEC, said that the name on his degree and WASC is different from what he currently bears.
In the same manner, the Delta State governor and vice presidential candidate of the PDP, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa in an affidavit attached to his particulars, informed INEC that his WASC obtained in 1974 was missing.

Okowa, however, attached a Higher School Certificate obtained in 1976.
The presidential candidate of the Young People’s Party (YPP), Prince Abdul Malik Ado Ibrahim, in the affidavit sworn to at the Federal High Court of Justice, Maitama, Abuja, on June 3, 2022, claimed that his original BSc degree issued by American College of Los Angeles, dated 1988; High School Diploma issued to him by Langley High, Norwich, UK dated 1979 and official degree transcript was missing.

THISDAY had earlier reported that the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Bola Tinubu was silent on the primary and secondary schools he attended.
Meanwhile, with less than two weeks to the governorship election in Osun State on July 16, Yakubu also raised concern over the dangers of vote-buying in the governorship election

“Again, arising from the experience in recent elections, vote-buying remains a major area of concern.
“We appreciate the role played by the anti-corruption and security agencies in apprehending some of the perpetrators of this brazen assault on our democracy.
“In particular, we are working with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to ensure the prosecution of persons arrested in the recent Ekiti governorship election. Action will commence as soon as the EFCC completes its investigation. I appeal to all security agencies to continue to join hands with the Commission to tackle this menace.”

The INEC chairman commended the relationship between INEC and security agencies in the Ekiti State governorship election.
He announced the readiness of INEC for the Osun State election, saying,  “on our part, all the major activities that are supposed to be carried out at this stage have been successfully undertaken.”

Yakubu added that the commission would keep a close watch on the security situation in Osun State.
Also, the NSA, Monguno has raised the alarm that the July 16 Osun State governorship election may be hijacked or sabotaged by politicians through buying of voters.

Monguno who was represented by Sanusi Galadima from his office said:  “The NSA also urged ICCES members to build on the successes recorded from the Ekiti election as some disgruntled politicians may attempt to sabotage the process for their selfish gains, through vote-buying and other forms of voter inducement as well as political thuggery.”

He also commended the INEC for the extension of the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise.
The NSA said that records from the conduct of the last Ekiti State governorship election indicated an impressive performance by the INEC as well as the security agencies as there were no major incidents of security concern recorded during and after the election.

Electoral Umpire Recognises Akpabio-backed APC Faction in Akwa Ibom

 Meanwhile, barring any last-minute changes, the name of the former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Akpabio will be ballot as the senatorial candidate of the APC for the Akwa Ibom North-West election next year.

This is the sequel to the recognition of the Ntukepko-led leadership of the party in Akwa Ibom State.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Akwa Ibom State, Mr Mike Igini, had stated that the APC cannot field any candidate in next year’s general election following its alleged inability to conduct a valid primary election for the selection of its candidates in the state and national elections.

Akpabio had participated in the APC’s presidential primary and did not feature in any senatorial primary of the APC.
His name was however forwarded by the APC to INEC as its senatorial candidate in the February 2023 senatorial election, after he was said to have participated in a senatorial primary conducted by the Ntukepko-led faction, which the electoral body did not recognise.

But in a letter dated June 21, 2022, and signed by the Secretary to INEC, Mrs Rose Oriaran-Anthony, the electoral umpire informed its REC in Akwa Ibom State that it would abide by a court judgment which declared Ntukepko as the authentic Chairman of the state chapter of the APC.

The letter marked: Ref: INEC/L&P/FHC/22/339/84, a copy of which was sighted by THISDAY reads, “This is to formally draw your attention to the subsisting Judgment/Order of the Federal High Court, Abuja (Suit No: FCH/ABJ/CS/1635/2021) which recognised Hon, Stephen Leo Ntukekpo as the Chairman of the APC in Awka Ibom State;

“The commission is to comply with the content of the judgment, please.”
While Igini had claimed that the APC in Akwa Ibom State did not conduct any primary monitored by INEC in the state, the APC had claimed that it re-conducted its primary at a rescheduled date wherein it informed the commission.
In a letter dated June 15 and cited by THISDAY, the APC accordingly urged the commission to recognise its candidates in the forthcoming general elections in the state.

The letter signed by APC’s National Secretary, Senator Iyiola Omisore read in part, “Following the judgment delivered in the above-mentioned suit which declared the Stephen Leo Ntukekpo-led state executive as the duly and democratically-elected members of the Akwa – Ibom State Executive Committee, our party which has always been law-abiding, elected to obey the court’s judgment and swear – in Stephen Leo Ntukekpo as the State Chairman of the party in Akwa Ibom State.
“Our party recently conducted its primary election to nominate the governorship candidate in Akwa Ibom State, wherein Mr. Akan Udofia emerged victorious as the candidate of the party.

“However, the news making the rounds both in print and electronic media is that the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Akwa Ibom State, Mr Mike Igini has been quoted as saying that our Party does not have a Governorship candidate in Akwa Ibom as no primary election took place to nominate our candidate.
“We respectfully request that Mr Mike Igini should be called to order and refrain from making statements that are likely to cause political turmoil in Akwa Ibom State and put our party and your commission in a bad light.

“Mr Chairman you are aware that political parties have exclusive rights to nominating candidates. We would therefore insist on exercising those rights.
“We equally request that all rights and privileges should be accorded to the Stephen Leo Ntukekpo-led State Executive Committee in Akwa Ibom State as we do not recognise any other group or faction particularly as there is a court judgment validating the State Executives led by Stephen Leo Ntukekpo.
“We are confident that you will give the concerns we have raised the much-needed attention they deserve in order not to bring your commission into disrepute and unnecessary embarrassment”.

 Justice Taiwo Taiwo had in a judgment delivered on March 17, declared Ntukepko as the authentic Chairman of the APC in Akwa Ibom State.
An appeal filed against the judgment at the court of Appeal was also dismissed following its withdrawal by the APC.

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