Lawan, Akpabio yet to be recognised as senatorial candidates – INEC

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*Lawan, Akpabio

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has debunked reports that it had given waivers to the senate president, Mr. Ahmad Lawan and the former minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Godswill Akpabio to contest the 2023 senatorial election in Yobe and Akwa Ibom states respectively.

The national commissioner of INEC, Mr. Festus Okoye, said in a statement that the commission was yet to recognise the two politicians as senatorial candidates as their cases were still in court.

Recall that Lawan and Akpabio had both contested in the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential primary, which was won by Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Both, however, chose to pick up the senate tickets for Yobe north and Akwa Ibom northwest senatorial districts respectively, thereby sparking controversy over the legality of such a move since most senate primaries were conducted before the presidential primary.

Recall that Mr. Bashir Machina won the party’s ticket for Yobe north, while Mr. Udom Ekpoudom won the primary election for Akwa Ibom northwest, which was monitored by INEC officials.

INEC, thereafter, rejected the substitution of their names with Lawan and Akpabio by the APC thereby creating controversies regarding the nominations emanating from the senatorial districts in respect of Lawan and Akpabio.

However, an online medium had reported that the two embattled politicians had got waivers to be named as their party’s candidates for the election.

It alleged that the commission succumbed to pressure from the ruling APC to doctor and backdate the certified true copy of reports to accommodate the duo.

“As evidence of the alleged role played by the Commission, a certified true copy of Form 9C uploaded by their political party and received by the Commission on June 17, 2022 when the nomination portal closed was presented by the medium.

“For clarity, the Form EC9 (submission of names of candidates by political parties) is the Form uploaded by parties on the INEC nomination portal. This is clearly indicated on the title of the form, which was received on June 17 when the portal closed.

“What follows is the publication of the personal particulars of nominated candidates, which was done a week later. The Forms of the two personalities in question were not published by the Commission.

“As part of the ongoing case in court, a law firm requested from the commission a certified true copy of the Form EC9 submitted by the APC as its candidate for Akwa Ibom northwest senatorial district, which we are duty bound to oblige them under the law. The form was certified on July 15.

“If minimum care had been exercised by the promoters of the story, they would have seen the two stamps of the Commission bearing different dates on the form. It is this form that is now misconstrued as INEC’s endorsement.

For the record, the commission has not recognised any of the two personalities as a Senatorial candidate,” Okoye said in the statement.

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