..orders removal of ADC candidate’s name from INEC website
Bankole Taiwo, Abeokuta
A Federal High Court sitting in Abeokuta has ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to list all the names of the candidates of the Labour Party (LP), for the 2023 national and State Assembly seats.
Justice Adetayo Aluko in a judgement, held that the Electoral Act, 2022 is superior to INEC guidelines on elections.
Justice Aluko stated further that Section 31 of the Electoral Act, 2022 allows parties to still submit names of candidates that emerge from substitution primaries not later than 90 days before the election.
He said that the electoral umpire, by its own manuals, cannot limit the time provided for by the Electoral Act.
It could be recalled that the INEC, has failed to list the candidates of Labour Party for the National and State Assembly seats for what the electoral umpire termed as failure from the party to submit names of the candidates for the 26 House Assembly seats, three senatorial seats and nine House of Representatives
The commission had given July 15 for the submission of the list of candidates for the presidential and National Assembly elections and Aug. 12 for candidates for governorship and state’s House of Assemblies polls
But the party had sued INEC as sole respondent in the suit.
In the matter filed by their Counsel Monday Mawah, LP had prayed the court to make an order directing INEC to allow the party to list all the names of all applicants for 2023 State and national assembly elections.
The party urged the court to declare that by virtue of Section 31 of the Electoral Act, 2022, INEC had no power to reject the name of its candidate.
The Court therefore ordered that all the candidates submitted by the Party should be uploaded in the INEC website.
Similarly, the same çourt has also ordered INEC to exclude and expunge the names of ADC and Biyi Otegbeye from the list of those contesting the 2023 gubernatorial election in Ogun State.
The APC, Ogun State had sued INEC regarding the publication of Biyi Otegbeye as candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) in the forthcoming 2023 elections
The court declared that ADC and Mr Otegbeye did not counter the contents of INEC’s reports with any credible evidence. Instead, in the counter-affidavit he filed, Mr Otegbeye stated that notice of primaries was given to INEC and INEC was notified of the resignation of the former candidate at 5pm on 12 August 2022 meanwhile, the notice of primaries he attached showed the primaries held earlier at 2pm of the same day.
The court held that under the Electoral Act, substitution primaries should be held within 14 days after withdrawal of a former candidate, and not before. However, in this case, ADC served the purported notice of withdrawal signed by Hon Matemilola Adelanwa 3 days after the alleged substitution primaries (as stated by INEC) or at 5 pm on 12 August 2022 after the substitution primaries (as stated by Otegbeye). The court held that this did not comply with the requirements of the Electoral Act and suggests a deliberate attempt by ADC to prevent INEC from monitoring primary elections which is now a mandatory requirement under the law.
The court held that having noted these infractions, INEC should not have published Mr Otegbeye’s name as candidate. The court declared that INEC has the sole responsibility to ensure that electoral law is complied with and that it was under the old law that INEC was a toothless bulldog. The judge held that under the new Electoral Act, INEC is empowered to not include candidates who do not emerge from valid primaries and that where INEC chickens out from this obligation, a political party can challenge failure of INEC to enforce the law.
The judge reminded political parties that the people of Nigeria deserve leaders who observe the law, and not law violators