The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has denied allegations by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) that it is working with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to short-change it in the general elections.
Backstory: The National Chairman of the (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole accused INEC of being grossly unfair to the party on Wednesday, Feb. 13, while speaking with journalists in Abuja.
According to Oshiomhole, “If there is anything, this INEC has been very, very unfair to APC. As we speak, there are two RECs (Resident Electoral Commissioners) that are virtually campaigning side by side with PDP.”
Adding that “INEC, without giving us any concrete explanation or giving concrete evidence went ahead to say that we cannot field candidates in Zamfara state, thereby seeking to award without any contest, nullify democracy in Zamfara state.”
Oshiomhole further alleged that “INEC is working more for PDP based on the evidence I can show. How can they explain that a court of competent jurisdiction gave orders in Zamfara to say these candidates are eligible to contest the election and another High Court in Abuja gave the verdict saying APC did not conclude its primaries but it did not give an order to INEC.”
Oshiomhole said that no order was issued by the High Court in Abuja to INEC. However, he adds, “there is a concrete existing order by a Zamfara high court which upheld the primaries that were conducted in Zamfara.”
INEC response: In response to the allegations, the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, stated that the commission is not a political party, explaining that the fate of APC in Zamfara and Rivers states were as a result of judicial pronouncements.
He said, “It is not true that the Independent National Electoral Commission is working hand in gloves with any political party to do the wrong things. The issue of Zamfara and Rivers are well known.”
“In the case of Zamfara, the Commission had written to the APC leadership to notify it that, due to its inability to conduct its primaries in Zamfara State within the stipulated time as required by law, the party cannot field candidates for the governorship election.”
“Thereafter, two cases were instituted in court resulting in two rulings which were delivered the same day. The Commission then adopted one of the rulings,” Oyekanmi stated.
“In the case of Rivers, it was the Supreme Court that took a final decision on the fate of APC. Therefore, both cases were purely judicial and INEC, being a law abiding institution, will always obey court orders/judgment.”
“The Commission is not a political party and does not have a candidate for the forthcoming general elections. Our duty is to provide a level playing field for all registered political parties and ensure that elections are conducted in a free, fair and transparent manner,” Oyekanmi stated.
Bottom Line: It’s interesting that both the PDP and APC have taken issues with INEC and accused it of partiality at one point or another. Hopefully it means that INEC isn’t on anyone’s side.