We are at a loss as to which sections of these two relevant laws, INEC and the AGF relied on in arriving at their bizarre decision to substitute a dead candidate in an on-going election even after the timelines for such has elapsed under all the rules
The Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) has kicked against an advice by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mr Abubakar Malami, to the All Progressives Congress (APC) that the party can substitute its late candidate in the Kogi State governorship election.
The opposition party also asked Mr Malami to “immediately vacate his office for harrying and misleading the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) into arriving at the decision”.
In a statement by the opposition party’s spokesman, Olisa Metuh, the party said it was shocked that “INEC, a supposedly independent electoral umpire, could allow itself to succumb to the antics of the APC by following the unlawful directive of an obviously partisan AGF to substitute a candidate in the middle of the ballot process”.
The electoral body had earlier said it would allow the APC to look for a candidate to feel the vacancy created by the death of Mr Abubakar Audu before supplementary elections that would hold on December 5 in 91 polling units where elections were cancelled.
Also making comments about the situation on Monday, Mr Malami said that the APC could substitute its candidate in the Kogi State governorship election, who died a day after the November 21 election.
But the PDP is kicking against the statements, saying they were attacks on Nigeria’s democracy.
The party in a statement said: “We are all aware that the two legal documents guiding INEC in the conduct of elections; the Constitution and the Electoral Act, have provisions for electoral exigencies as well as empower the electoral body to fully take responsibility for any of its actions or inaction without undue interference from any quarters whatsoever.
“We are therefore at a loss as to which sections of these two relevant laws, INEC and the AGF relied on in arriving at their bizarre decision to substitute a dead candidate in an on-going election even after the timelines for such has elapsed under all the rules.
“INEC as a statutory body has the full complements of technical hands in its legal department to advice it appropriately and we wonder why it had to wait for directives from the AGF, an external party, if not for partisan and subjective interest”.
The PDP further rejected what it said was “a brazen move by the APC and INEC to circumvent the laws and ambush the yet-to-be concluded election by introducing a practice that is completely alien to the constitution and the Electoral Act”.
The party claimed that the clear implication of this action of the AGF and INEC was that the APC would be fielding two different governorship candidates in the on-going Kogi election, a situation it said meant that INEC would be transferring votes cast for late Prince Abubakar Audu to another candidate.
According to the opposition party, the scenarios had no place in the Nigerian Constitution.
The opposition party further said: “Whereas the PDP, in honour of the sanctity of human life and respect for the dead, had since Sunday refrained from making comments on the conduct of the election, we can no longer maintain such in the face of the barefaced attack on our democracy.
“This INEC, under the leadership of Professor Mahmood Yakubu, has shown itself as partisan, morally bankrupt and obviously incapable of conducting a credible election within our laws”.
It also demanded for the resignation of the INEC Chairman, as claimed that the nation’s democracy could not afford to be left in the hands of an electoral umpire that could not exert its independence and the sanctity of the electoral process.
On Sunday, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared the Kogi State governorship election inconclusive.
After election results from the 21 local government areas were collated on Sunday, the All Progressives Congress’ candidate, late Mr Audu, was leading while the incumbent Governor, Captain Idris Wada of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) trailed by a margin less than the number of cancelled votes.
The candidate of the All Progressives Congress had 240,867 votes while that of the PDP got 199,514 votes.