The Commissioner for Information and Voter Education of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Festus Okoye, has said the commission is constitutionally backed to reject candidates put forward by political parties.
Okoye stated this during an appearance on Channels TV on Tuesday while reacting to the various challenges from political parties who are challenging the authority of the electoral body to reject candidates presented by their competitors.
It would be recalled that the electoral body disqualified the Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi, as the Ebonyi South Senatorial District candidate of the All Progressive Congress.
The court held that the APC erred in conducting another primary without including the name of the runner-up in the first primary after the winner of the first primary withdrew from the race.
Okoye stated that the electoral body is constitutionally backed by the law under the new electoral act to reject candidates put forward by political parties when the Party fails to hold a primary election.
He stated that Section 84 (1) clearly states that “A political party seeking to nominate candidates for elections under this Act shall hold primaries for aspirants to all elective positions which shall be monitored by the commission.” The monitoring by INEC is mandatory. To that extent, any primary of a political party not monitored by officials of INEC is illegal.
He also stated that the body is authorized to reject the names of candidates when the political parties fail to submit the names of these candidates within the stipulated time frame.
He explained 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, not later than 180 days before the date appointed for a general election under this Act, 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,” he added.