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Substitution of candidate: We were handicapped by existing law- LASIEC

Substitution of candidate: We were handicapped by existing law-LASIEC

Amid the controversy which trailed the indiscriminate substitution of candidates among political parties, especially the ruling All Progressives Candidate (APC) prior to the Lagos council election last July, the chairman of the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC), Justice Ayotunde Phillips (rtd) has said the commission was handicapped and working with existing law in the state which had been amended by the State House of Assembly giving political parties forty-eight hours to change their candidates before any council election.

Speaking at the post-election media briefing, Thursday, at the commission office in Yaba, Phillips said the amended law created the lapses, adding that the commission was not the problem.

According to her, “The law was amended to give only 48 hours for political parties to change their candidates before any council election in the state by the Lagos House of Assembly.

“It has nothing to do with us. We are election umpires, we don’t make candidates, we don’t support candidates. It is the political parties that present candidates, it is that law that they amended that came back to shoot them in the feet”.

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Phillips stressed that the council poll recorded low turnout of voters in which the total number of votes was 678,324 out of over 6 million registered voters in the state. She said the figure represents about 10.3 per cent of eligible voters in Lagos State.

She added that the commission will continue to intensify her voter education strategy to better improve on those numbers in subsequent elections.

“The conduct of the election did not go without legal challenges; 12 pre-election cases were filed. Four have been concluded. Appeals have been filed in respect of two. 20 election petitions were filed before the two Election Tribunals and they have all been disposed of by the tribunals.

“Out of the 20 cases filed, four filed by the Young Progressives Congress (YPP) were withdrawn and we’re accordingly dismissed by the tribunal. Five of the cases were struck out for want of diligent prosecution while 11 petitions were tried and decided on their merit.

“Six appeals were filed before the Election Petitions Appeal Tribunal where five of the appeals were filed before it was dismissed. The decision of the lower tribunal in one of the petitions was affirmed and the commission immediately complied with the judgment of the Appeal Tribunal,” she added.

The local government elections in Lagos State took place across the 20 local government areas and 37 local council development areas of the state on July 24th.The APC won all the chairmanship and councillorship positions in the state, except for two councillorship seats which was won by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

YIAGA Africa, an election observer group in its report on the conduct of the council poll said it was marred by voters’ apathy and irregularities.