As political parties struggled last night to meet the deadline set by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the submission of lists of governorship and House of Assembly candidates for next year’s general election, efforts of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to submit its list of candidates from Rivers State for the elections were rebuffed by the electoral body.
The National Working Committee of the ruling party had, in a statement issued on Thursday night, vowed to submit its list of candidates for Rivers State, saying that last Monday’s judgment of the Supreme Court had no bearing on its congresses.
An INEC source, however, told Saturday Tribune that the electoral body told the APC officials who came to submit the party’s list of candidates for next year’s elections to hold on to its Forms C00I and C002 on nominations from Rivers State pending the commission’s receipt and interpretation of the Supreme Court judgment.
The judgment of the apex court delivered last Monday had set aside the ruling of the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt Division, which vacated a stay order made by a Rivers State High Court against the conduct of APC congresses in the state.
Delivering the ruling on the interlocutory appeal, Justice Centus Nweze held that the decision of the Court of Appeal was in error.
Nweze said the lower court was compelled to be guided by the judgments of the apex court, adding that the panel had to follow the law before arriving at its decision.
It was gathered that Justice Chinwendu Nworgu of the State High Court, on October 11, delivering judgment on a substantive suit instituted by Ibrahim Umar and 12 other members of the Rivers State APC challenging their exclusion from the party’s congresses, the court voided the list of candidates and sacked the state party executive.
The INEC source further revealed that the APC submitted no list of candidates for elective offices from Zamfara State for next year’s general election.
INEC, in a memo “Failure To Conduct Party Primaries in Zamfara State Within The Stipulated Time Frame,” signed by its acting secretary, Okechukwu Ndeche, earlier addressed to the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, notified the APC that it would not be eligible to field candidates in Zamfara State as the commission noted that the APC failed to conduct primaries.
But in its reaction, the APC NWC, in a letter dated October 10, 2018 and addressed to Mr Ndeche, claimed the ruling party’s candidates emerged through consensus, not primary.
Oshiomhole further claimed in his response to INEC that aspirants for elective offices on its platform in the state agreed to produce candidates through a consensus arrangement which he said was affirmed by delegates after what he called “intense horse-trading.”
For the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), an official of the party sighted at International Conference Centre, Abuja, where INEC was collecting the lists, said the party did not have to wait until Friday (yesterday) to submit its list of candidates.
“We started submission after the publication of list of presidential and National Assembly candidates. We didn’t wait for all the forms to come. As they come, we bring them. That’s why you did not see a crowd here,” he said.
The official, who craved anonymity, confided in Saturday Tribune that INEC insisted on list from the faction led by Adebayo Dayo in the Ogun State chapter of the main opposition party.
Checks revealed that 38 political parties have since submitted lists of their candidates.
INEC’s Director of Voter Education and Publicity, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, told newsmen last night that there would be no extension of the deadline.