From Magnus Eze, Obinna Odogwu, Awka and Mokwugwo Solomon
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has given reasons why it has not complied with the court orders asking it to publish Prof. Chukwuma Soludo and Senator Ugochukwu Uba as candidates of their respective parties.
Soludo and Uba emerged as candidates of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in parallel primary polls held in different locations in Awka, the Anambra State capital respectively.
INEC July 16, published the name of Chief Chukwuma Umeoji as APGA’s candidate following a court order obtained from Jigawa State. His name was published alongside other candidates from other parties.
The column for the PDP was left vacant. The commission, however, acknowledged receiving the name of Mr Valentine Ozigbo from the PDP’s national leadership.
Following the parallel polls of the parties, legal fireworks erupted; and recently, the state High Court in Awka ordered INEC to publish the names of Soludo and Uba as the candidates of their respective parties.
INEC’s National Commissioner in charge of voter education, Festus Okoye, while fielding questions on Channels TV Tuesday night, explained that the commission would meet and study the new judgment before taking actions.
“Well, as of today (27th) nothing has changed. As you’re aware, the commission meets on Thursdays. So, the commission has not met to take any decision or to look into any other issue relating to Anambra State governorship election.
“So, as at today, the position is that the personal particulars of the candidates as uploaded by the commission on the 16th day of July still remains. But let me just say this. There is no judicial division of the federal or state High Court or the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in the INEC.
“Two, INEC is not a court of law and has no adjudicatory powers. Third, the issue of the conduct of the party primaries is within the domestic rim of political parties and they have been enjoined to also conform to section 87 of the Electoral Act in the conduct of their primaries.
“So, I think that it is incumbent on the political parties to use their own internal rules, mechanisms and guidelines to resolve their party challenges and problems.
“Under section 287 of the constitution of Nigeria, INEC is an institution that respects the rule of law and due process; and we have been enjoined by the constitution to enforce the judgments and orders of the courts of competent jurisdiction anywhere in Nigeria.
“And this commission will continue to respect court orders and also enforce court orders so long as those court orders relate to the functions and powers of INEC.
“So, if there are new court orders that have come in, at the appropriate time and within the confines of the guidelines, rules and procedures of the commission, INEC will meet and look at the judgments.
“And if the judgments are clear and we understand what the courts have asked us to do, definitely, we will comply because we are not a court of law and we don’t have adjudicatory powers. The only power we have is to enforce the decisions and judgements of the courts.
“So, as we speak today, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo and Ugochukwu Uba are not on our list of governorship candidates.
“I am aware that some court orders have come in and at the appropriate time, during the commission’s meeting, we will look at some of these court orders and understand what we have been asked to do and we will definitely comply with valid court orders served on the commission”, Okoye explained.