Nigeria’s electoral body, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is warning political parties in the country to “adhere strictly to the principles of internal democracy.”
INEC gave this charge in a statement signed by its National Commissioner, and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye.
The electoral body insists all political parties must draw “From their constitutions, guidelines, the Electoral Act and other Regulations and Guidelines issued by the Commission.”
According to INEC political parties must ensure that “Their candidates for the 1,491 constituencies for which elections will be conducted in 2023 must emerge from democratic, transparent and valid primaries, in line with the provisions of Sections 29 and 84 of the Electoral Act, 2022.
“Where a political party fails to comply with the provisions of the Act in the conduct of its primaries, its candidate shall not be included in the election for the particular position in issue,” the electoral body warned.
INEC also promised to “Monitor the primaries of each political party that provides the required legal notice in line with Sections 82 (1) and (5) of the Electoral Act.
It adds that “Failure of a political party to notify the Commission of any convention or congress convened for the purpose of nominating candidates for any of the elective offices specified in the Act shall render the convention or congress invalid.
History of Disqualified Candidates
Ahead of the governorship election in Osun State in June this year, nominees of the Action Alliance (AA); African Democratic Congress (ADC) and the All-Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) will not participate in the July 16th, 2022 election.
INEC says this is because the parties failed “to comply with the Commission’s Guidelines on Political Party Operations (2018) or the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).”
Also, in neighbouring Ekiti State, the Boot Party will not have its name on the ballot as INEC insists it did “not hold its primary election at any venue known to, and monitored by the commission.
“Consequently, we do not expect the party to nominate a candidate for the Ekiti State governorship election,” INEC added.
In the 2019 general elections, the APC did not have candidates in Rivers and Zamfara States.
In Rivers, a supremacy tussle between factions loyal to former Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi and Senator Magnus Abe resulted to nullification of candidates of the party by a court.
James Omotosho of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt ruled on a suit brought before him, asking the court not to recognise any candidate from the state APC.
“All nominations in the APC, from the governorship, Senate, House of Representatives and others, are hereby nullified and void and set aside.
“Only political parties that conducted valid primaries are eligible to produce candidates for the general elections,” the judge ruled.
INEC obeyed the ruling.
It was also the same in Zamfara where a Federal High Court in Abuja upheld INEC’s to bar all candidates of the APC from participating in the 2019 general elections.
The APC did not present candidates in all general elections conducted in the state.
INEC insists its election timetable published on the 26th of February, 2022 “Provides detailed activities, including the conduct of primaries, nomination of candidates by political parties and other activities leading to the Presidential and National Assembly elections on Saturday 25th February 2023, followed by the Governorship and State Assembly elections on Saturday 11th March 2023.”
It adds that “All the activities are in line with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and the Electoral Act, 2022.”