By Emmanuel Oloniruha/Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said it did not substitute nominated candidates of the African Action Congress (AAC) or any other party’s nominees for Ondo governorship election.
The commission made the clarification in a statement by Mr Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee on Monday in Abuja.
“On July 31, INEC published the provisional list of candidates for the Ondo State governorship election scheduled for Oct. 10 in its state office in Akure and also uploaded same to its website and social media platforms.
“The list contains the names of the governorship and deputy governorship candidates submitted by 17 political parties, including the AAC at the close of nomination on July 28.
“However, one of the aspirants in the primaries of the party accused the commission of substituting his name as the rightful governorship candidate of the party, while another aspirant also claimed that the commission substituted his deputy governorship candidate.
“Contrary to these assertions, INEC did not substitute the name of any aspirant or candidate.
“The commission received only one submission from the AAC through its dedicated online portal for candidate nomination.
“There was no human interface. The names uploaded on the portal by the political parties were the same names published.
“The commission only receives the names of candidates and running mates from the National Headquarters of Political Parties, duly signed by both the national chairman and national secretary,” Okoye said.
He said that by the Supplementary Regulations and Guidelines for Activities of Political Parties issued by the commission on June 9, the national chairmen and national secretaries of political parties as contained in the commission’s records shall be issued access codes to the commission’s portal.
He said that only the two party leaders had access for the electronic submission, withdrawal and substitution of names and particulars of their candidates as elected at party primaries monitored by the commission.
“The political parties shall use the access codes provided by the commission to upload the names and particulars of their candidates based on the prescribed Forms EC9 (formerly EC CF 001) and the appropriate Form EC9 (A) – (G) series (formerly CF 002) as provided on the commission’s website.
“The completed forms EC9 and EC9 (A) – (G) series, signed by the national chairman and national secretary of the political party, are uploaded to the commission’s prescribed portal along with the relevant covering letter addressed to the chairman of the commission,” he said.
Okoye said that INEC did not deal directly with aspirants, candidates or state branches of political parties in matters relating to the nomination, submission and substitution of candidates of political parties.
He said that such action was the exclusive preserve of the political parties as represented by the national chairman and national secretary.
“The commission duly published the names of the governorship and deputy governorship candidates as submitted by the national chairman and secretary of the AAC.
“Aspirants, candidates and state branches of political parties, with issues or challenges relating to their nominated candidates should approach and resolve such issues with the national chairmen and secretaries of their respective political parties,” Okoye said.
AAC National Chairman, Dr Leonard Nzenwa in a separate statement, confirmed that the name of of the party’s deputy governorship candidate for the Ondo governorship election, published by INEC was the authentic name submitted to the commission by the party.
He said that the names of the candidates published by INEC were the ones submitted by the party to the commission as empowered by the party’s Constitution and Electoral Act 2010 (As Amended).
“The party wishes to make it clear that the party’s leadership, through its national headquarters submitted names of its candidates to the commission.
“It is within powers of the party’s chairman and its leadership to exercise this task as it has nothing to do with the INEC or any other stakeholder for that matter,” he said.
Nzenwa enjoined party faithful to remain calm, law-abiding and continue to work to uplift the party