• Wednesday, June 19, 2024
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Why we excluded ANDP from Bayelsa governorship poll – INEC

Festus-Okoye

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it excluded the Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party (ANDP) from the November 16, 2019 Bayelsa governorship election because the party nominated an underage candidate.

The Bayelsa State Gubernatorial Petition Tribunal on Monday nullified the election of Governor Duoye Diri of Bayelsa State, following a petition by the Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party (ANDP), which argued that it was unlawfully excluded from participating in the election.

But reacting to the judgment, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, said the commission excluded the candidate in line with the provisions of the Constitution and the Electoral Act.

Okoye, speaking during a Channels Television programme, insisted that the Commission was right, saying the electoral umpire was yet to get a certified true copy of the judgment and it would make a decision on whether to appeal or not when it gets document.

“On the 13th day of September 2019, the Commission wrote to the party informing them that they submitted the name of an underage candidate. We drew their attention to the fact that under the Constitution of Nigeria, a candidate for the post of Governor or Deputy Governor must have attained the age of 35 before such a person can be qualified to contest for such a position,” Okoye explained.

“The party replied the letter on the 21st September, 2019 written to them by INEC and acknowledged that they submitted the name of an underage candidate and requested to replace the name but we wrote them that the period for nomination had closed and therefore they cannot replace the name of an invalid candidate.

“As far as we are concerned, the Constitution wouldn’t have tied our hand so much for a party to even nominate a foreigner as a candidate and then the Commission will fold its hands. Section 31 of the Electoral Act talks about the Commission not rejecting a validly nominated candidate. And if section 187 (1) of the Constitution says the party must nominate a validly qualified candidate. So the validity of the Governor and that of the Deputy must not be in question. As far as we concerned, we did the right thing,” he said..