INEC has removed Ahmad Lawan, senate president, David Umahi, governor of Ebonyi State, and Godswill Akpabio, former governor of Akwa Ibom State off the list of All Progressives Congress (APC) senatorial candidates.
The three were listed by the APC as candidates for the senatorial districts of Yobe North, Ebonyi South, and Akwa Ibom North-west, respectively.
Nonetheless, according to the list provided by the commission on Friday, Lawan, Umahi, and Akpabio were not included.
The development follows controversies surrounding the APC Yobe north senatorial ticket and senatorial primary concerns involving Akpabio and Umahi.
Although the APC had scheduled its senatorial primaries for May, Umahi, Lawan, and Akpabio are alleged to have participated in APC primaries after vying for the party’s presidential nomination and losing in June.
Festus Okoye, spokesperson for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), stated in an interview with Channels Television that the commission is not required to publish the names of candidates submitted by political parties if there are questions regarding the legitimacy of primaries featuring such candidates.
“If you look at section 29(1) of the Electoral Act 2022, section 29 states, ‘every political party shall submit to the commission, in the prescribed forms, the list of candidates it intends to support at the election, who must have emerged from valid primaries conducted by the political party, not later than 180 days before the date appointed for a general election under this Act,'” he said.
“The commission does not submit candidate lists. The political parties alone are responsible for submitting this particular list, and there is no personal interaction between the commission and the political parties in this instance.
“We open the portal, which we’ve dubbed the ‘candidate nomination portal,’ and issue an access code to the national chairman of each political party that held primaries, so that they can upload the list and personal information of their nominated candidates.
“Therefore, if a political party has uploaded the list and personal details of a candidate who did not emerge from a genuine party primary, INEC is not required by the constitution and the law to publish these details.”
Okoye said that a candidate who was lawfully nominated in a primary but whose name was omitted by the party may seek remedy in a court of competent jurisdiction.
He added that the list released on Friday is not the final document for the 2023 elections, and that the final list will be released at a later date.