By Emmanuel Oloniruha
The Independent National Electoral Commission has confirmed that the All Progressives Congress in Edo will select its candidate for the September governorship election through direct primary.
There have been disagreements between the camp of the National Chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, and that of Edo State Governor over the mode to be used for the governorship primary slated for June 22 this year.
Oshiomhole’s camp proposed direct mode, while Obaseki and his supporters vehemently faulted it, insisting that indirect mode be used.
Obaseki’s camp added that there is a regulation monitoring all activities due to COVID-19 in Nigeria and Edo state, which prevents anybody to carry out activities that are similar to direct primary election in the state.
A Federal High Court on Monday also granted an order, restraining the APC and its national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole from conducting any primary election in Edo State.
However, Mr Festus Okoye, the National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, said the mode of primaries in Edo election was reached on Tuesday via a virtual meeting.
He said out of 18 registered political parties, 15 have notified their intention to conduct primaries to nominate candidates for the Edo Governorship election.
Okoye said that the notice was in accordance with Sections 85 and 87 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).
“By the Timetable and Schedule of Activities issued by the Commission on Feb. 6, party primaries for the Edo Governorship election will take place between June 2 and June 27,” he said.
Okoya said that the All Progressives Congress (APC) would hold a direct primary on June 22, while the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would hold indirect primary between June 19 and June 20.
According to Okoye, the African Action Congress (AAC), African Democratic Party (ADP), Allied Peoples Movement (APM), New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) and Social Democratic Party (SDP) will also conduct indirect primaries on June 25.
He also said that the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Allied Peoples Movement (APM), Labour Party (LP) and Young Progressives Party (YPP) had notified the commission that they would conduct indirect primaries on June 27.
Other parties to hold indirect primaries were Action Peoples Party (APP) on June 26, National Rescue Movement (NRM) June 20 and Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) June 14.
Okoye appealed to the various political parties to conduct their primaries in full compliance with the provisions of the laws and guidelines.
These, according to him, include the 1999 Constitution and Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Political Party Primaries (2018) and the INEC Policy for Conducting Elections in the context of COVID-19 Pandemic.
“Political parties must shun all acts capable of breaching the peace and unsettling the peace and order of the State and jeopardising the health and safety of party members, election officials and observers,” he said.
On the prosecution of election offenders, Okoye said that INEC had received 16 case files arising out of the 2019 general elections.
“In the understanding that impunity encourages perpetrators of election offences, the Commission is vigorously prosecuting offenders.
“So far, 16 case files arising out of the 2019 General Elections have been provided by the Police (the lead agency for electoral security) on the conclusion of the investigation.
“The cases are in Abia, Anambra, Bayelsa, Gombe, Kogi, Lagos and Niger States, ranging from snatching and destruction of election materials, disorderly conduct, unlawful possession of ballot papers and Permanent Voters’ Cards to canvassing for votes at polling units on election day.
“Besides, two cases emanating from the Bayelsa Governorship election and relating to snatching and destruction of electoral materials are also being prosecuted,” he said.
Okoye, therefore, urged the political parties sponsoring candidates and participating in the Edo and Ondo Governorship elections to eschew violence and conduct their activities in the best traditions of electoral democracy.
He said that the commission would not condone acts of electoral impunity during the end of the tenure of Governorship elections and the forthcoming by-elections.
“The commission will work collaboratively with all the security agencies to ensure a good electoral environment for the conduct of elections,” he said.