The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has dashed the hopes of former Akwa Ibom State Governor, Goodwill Akpabio and Senate President Ahmed Lawan, to contest for the senatorial seats in their respective states, insisting that the duo remain disqualified to run.
Akpabio, the immediate past Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and Lawan who had both lost out on their bids to vie for the presidential tickets of the All Progressives Congress (APC), had tried to replace winners of the senatorial candidate in the Akwa Ibom North West and Yobe North Senatorial Districts respectively but have both come short as the electoral body has refused to use them to replace the winners.
While reacting to moves by Akpabio and Lawan to validate the primary elections which purportedly produced them as party’s candidates, the Commission’s National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, advised the duo to seek legal redress against the decision to disqualify them.
In a statement signed by Okoye on Saturday, the electoral umpire maintained that it was not backing down from its earlier decision to disqualify Akpabio and Lawan as it did not recognise the primaries that declared them as winners.
“The attention of the commission has been drawn to speculations circulating online on the outcome of some of the recent primaries conducted by political parties and related issues,” the statement said.
“In particular, allegations intended to impugn the integrity of the Commission have been made in respect of the Akwa Ibom North West and Yobe North Senatorial Districts.
“To set the record straight, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria mandates the Commission to monitor the organization and operation of political parties, including their finances, conventions, congresses and party primaries.
“In line with its constitutional and legal obligations, the Commission deployed monitors to the various constituencies and received reports of such exercise.
“In relation to the primaries for the Akwa Ibom North West and Yobe North Senatorial Districts, the Commission stands by the monitoring reports received from our State offices.
“For this reason, the Commission did not publish the personal particulars of any candidate for the two constituencies at variance with the State reports.
“Right now, the Commission is funtus officio in the two cases. Aggrieved parties are at liberty to approach the Federal High Court and seek redress as provided in section 285 of the Constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and sections 29(5) and 84(14) of the Electoral Act, 2022.”