The New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) has pleaded with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to permit it to substitute candidates for various elective offices in accordance with court orders just weeks before the start of the February 2023 general elections.
The party further emphasized to INEC that the Electoral Act supersedes the Commission’s rules on the deadline for candidates’ final submission.
On Wednesday, Rufai Alkali, the national chairman of the NNPP, told reporters in Abuja that the party had asked the court to interpret the electoral act and that the decision had been in its favor.
He disclosed that NNPP has forwarded the correspondence to INEC “but INEC said no and instead they went to appeal the matter and we also won.”
Alkali explained that “We have already written a letter to INEC and we are waiting for them to respond so that we can validly nominate candidates from the party.
We also have another case which came about two or three days ago, which is about 300 House of Assembly candidates and in such an issue you have to substitute them because you cannot force anybody to be your candidate.”
While commending the electoral body for timely preparation ahead of the poll, he said, “We appreciate the enormity of the assignments before INEC, we however believe the Commission should continue to implement Court rulings, the better for our Country.”
He further added, “We have invited you members of the Fourth Estate of the Realm to brief you on activities involving our Party, NNPP, especially our court matters with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Our party has reasons to take INEC to court over disagreements on the issue of uploading and submission of names of some of our Candidates.”
This is even as he commended the judiciary, adding that “Our great party, New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) wishes to use this medium to express our appreciation and gratitude to Nigerian Judiciary for being the last bastion of hope for the people and a pillar of democracy and democratic processes particularly leading to the 2023 general election.
“Our party, NNPP particularly, has benefitted immensely from the sound judgments of the Federal High Court and Appellate Court which were delivered with dispatch in spite of the court’s overcrowded dockets plates for Candiality.
“We also wish to use this medium to most especially appreciate the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) under the able leadership of amiable Patriotic Prof. Mahmood Yakubu for its sense of responsibility to the promotion of rule of law and commitment to conducting the most credible election in 2023.
“In the same spirit, we most humbly urge the Commission to urgently comply with the Court orders expeditiously delivered by the courts so as to further build up confidence of the Political parties and general public in the Commission’s unflinching and unwavering commitment to conducting free, fair and credible election in the 2023 General Election.
“We want to use this opportunity to assure Prof. Mahmood Yakubu of our confidence in him and his Commission to deliver a sound election that will stand the test of time. We therefore pledge our unflinching support for him and INEC.
Speaking on the crux of the issue between the electoral umpire and the party, Alkali said, “On the first set of candidates, the lower court gave us a favourable judgment, about 80 National Assembly candidates were to be substituted
“Subsequently, we had a separate case of two senatorial candidates who purchased our forms and were screened and nominated after the primaries. One was senator Ibrahim Shekarau from Kano and the other one from Taraba State. Also one of our deputy governorship candidates from Yobe state who just suddenly from nowhere sold the position. I understand he collected N500m.
“There is another House of Assembly candidate from Potiskum, Yobe State. You know the place of a deputy governor, no governor can run without a deputy. So when somebody is withdrawn, he has to be substituted
In the case of Senator Shekarau, he even wrote to INEC telling them that he has withdrawn, while the one from Taraba State went to court to swear an affidavit that he has left the party and the ticket. So we approached INEC about the situation, they said as far as they were concerned, the people were not dead, they were still in the list of candidates of our party.”