The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says Hope Democratic Party (HDP) fielded no candidate for the governorship election it conducted in Bayelsa State on December 5 and so is incompetent to challenge the outcome of the election having not participated in the poll.
The Street Journal recalls that HDP and two of the party’s chieftains, Chief Bulus Wombu and Hon King George, had claimed that they were excluded from the polls and approached the court seeking to set aside the outcome of the election.
INEC, in a preliminary objection to the HDP suit slated for hearing before Justice Evoh Chukwu of the Federal High Court, Abuja on Wednesday, December 16, urges the court to dismiss the suit on account of being grossly incompetent by reason of non compliance with Rule 10 (1) (2) and (3) of the Rules of Professional Conduct 2007.
Mr Ibrahim Bawa, SAN, INEC’s counsel, claims that because the suit is incompetent, the court has no jurisdiction to entertain it, and prays the court to strike out the suit for lacking merit and substance.
The electoral umpire, in a 5-paragraph affidavit in support of the objection deposed to by one Paave Demenongo, claims that it held a meeting on June 5, 2015 and approved the timetable and schedule of activities for the governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States.
It says that at the time of the meeting, presided over by its former Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, the electoral body had met the requisite quorum to hold the said meeting.
The date of the governorship election in Bayelsa, it said, was amended by INEC on July 19 and that the timetable and schedule of activities released was duly signed by INEC Secretary.
It further submitted that the timetable and schedule of activities was widely publicized in both electronic and print media, and same was also conveyed to all the registered political parties in the country.
The term of office of Professor Jega, and six other National Commissioners, expired on June 30, 2015, while the term of office of five other National Commissioners subsisted, INEC said.
The National Commissioners whose terms of office continue are Hajiya Amina Bala Zakari, Ambassador Mohammed Wali, Dr Suleiman Oniyangi, Dr Chris Iyimoga and Ambassador Lawrence Nwuruku.
INEC also submitted that HDP’s claim that it intended to participate in the election was untrue since the party neither held primary election to nominate candidate nor submitted the name of any candidate to it.
It said HDP, which never submitted any candidate’s name in the first instance, can not turn around and claim that its candidate was excluded in the election.
According to INEC, the right of a political party to participate in an election conducted by it was circumscribed by the provisions of Sections 87 and 31 of the Electoral Act 2010, as amended.
The electoral body, therefore, prays the court to either strike out the suit or dismisses it in its entirety.