By Omeiza Ajayi – Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has explained its decision to omit the candidate of the Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party (ANDP) from the last Governorship election in Bayelsa state, saying the party failed to meet the requirements for its participation in the exercise.
INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr Festus Okoye, who stated this while reacting to the nullification of the election by the tribunal, however, said the commission was yet to receive a copy of the judgment.
According to Okoye, the party’s nomination was deemed invalid as it did not exercise its right guaranteed in the Fourth Alteration to the Constitution by filing its suit within 14 days of the accrual of the said right.
INEC said the ANDP had conducted its primary election and submitted the name of one Peter David as its Deputy Governorship candidate.
“As of the time of the submission of the name of the said candidate, he was 34 years-old, contrary to Section 177(b) of the constitution that makes it mandatory for a candidate for such office to have attained the age of 35 to be eligible to contest the election.
“In the candidate’s statutory declaration of age and affidavit attached to his form, the party stated that he was born on Feb. 10, 1985.
“On Sept. 13, 2019, the commission wrote to the party drawing their attention to the constitutional age requirement of 35 years for Governorship/Deputy Governorship candidates as stipulated in Section 177(b) of the constitution.
“The commission also informed them of the invalidity of their nomination for the November 16, 2019 governorship election in Bayelsa State,” he said.
Okoye also recalled that on September 21, 2019, and in response to the letter of the commission dated Sept. 13, 2019, the ANDP wrote the commission acknowledging the invalidity of its nomination and forwarding the name of one Miss Inowei Janeth as their new Deputy Governorship candidate.
“On Sept. 27, 2019, the commission informed the party that the deadline for the submission of nominations as provided for in the Timetable and Schedule of Activities released by the Commission on May 16, 2019, was Sept. 9, 2019.
“The commission also informed the party that since they did not submit a valid nomination, they couldn’t validly substitute any candidate.
“Consequently the name and logo of the party did not appear and was not reflected in the ballot paper.
“It is pertinent to note that the party did not exercise its right guaranteed in the Fourth Alteration to the constitution by filing its suit within 14 days of the accrual of the said right as the issues canvassed are pre-election issues.
“The commission may respond to some of the issues raised in the judgment of the tribunal when we are availed of the full judgement and the reasons for the judgement,” Okoye said.
The Bayelsa State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja had on Monday nullified the election of Governor Douye Diri of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
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