The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Adams Oshiomhole has accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of bias. Oshiomhole made the accusation in response to a letter from the Commission which had pointed out that the Zamfara State chapter will not be fielding candidates for electoral positions in the 2019 general elections.
A letter from INEC to the APC pointed out that the Zamfara state chapter had missed the deadline for submission of its candidates’ list. Consequently, the electoral body barred the party in Zamfara State from fielding candidates for the general elections next year.
INEC is quoted saying, “Based on the provision of Section 87 and 31 of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended, the commission does not expect that your party will submit names of any candidate from Zamfara State. For clarity, our position, therefore, is that the APC will not be fielding candidates for the governorship, National Assembly and state Assembly elections.”
In response to the Commission, Oshiomhole said that the party conducted primaries in the state. He referred to a report from the Zamfara electoral committee on primaries held between October 6 and 7, 2018.
“After hours of intense horse-trading, a consensus was reached within the spirit and context of the Electoral Act and the constitution of our party on the basis of which a list was produced which was confirmed/affirmed by all delegates present. This was done in strict compliance with section 87 (6) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as Amended).
“Therefore, the claim in your letter under reference that ‘no primaries were conducted by your party in the state, notwithstanding that our officials were fully mobilized and deployed’, could only be referring to their observation that actual voting did not take place, which is not the only mode prescribed for producing candidates in the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended). We, therefore, affirm that indeed primaries took place in Zamfara State.”
Oshiomhole added that the PDP did not also hold primaries in Kano, but no such similar letter was written to the PDP in relation to Kano State. It is our contention, in the circumstance, that your letter is not only preemptive, but your position seems to negate the spirit of any fair hearing and is devoid of legal basis.”
Oshiomhole concluded that the APC will surely present candidates for the governorship, National Assembly and state Assembly elections in the state before the October 18, 2018 deadline for the submission of such names.
This is a big test for INEC and its independence. The commission’s ability to operate a rules-based system is being strongly tested by Oshiomhole’s insistence that the party will field candidates despite the fact that INEC says the party missed its deadline.
The APC is attempting to deflect the situation by bringing up what happened with PDP in Kano State. The party failed to consider that an INEC official was present during the Kano exercise and vouched that voting had in fact taken place. Nothing similar could have been said of the situation in Zamfara.
If INEC bows to the ruling party, Nigerians will raise serious questions about its fairness. The only way out for both the APC and INEC would be for the ruling party to make its as argument in court.