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VP SWAP: INEC Reacts To Suit Seeking Tinubu, Obi’s Disqualification

The PDP, in the suit, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1016/2022, wants the court to declare Tinubu and Obi’s recent substitution of their vice-presidential running mates as unlawful and that hence they “cannot validly contest” in the 2023 presidential election.

Tinubu and Obi, who are the respective presidential candidates of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Labour Party, had earlier submitted what was called ‘placeholder’ VP nominees to INEC to beat the commission’s June 17 deadline pending when they found suitable running mates.

Rabiu Kwankwaso, the New Nigeria Peoples Party’s presidential candidate, had similarly submitted an interim vice-presidential candidate to INEC to afford him more time to pick the right running mate.

Only the PDP, among the leading political parties, had nominated a substantive running mate to its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, to INEC.

Following Tinubu and Obi’s substitution of their running mates, the PDP approached the Federal High Court, Abuja, to seek disqualification of the candidates from the February 25, 2023 poll.

The party wants Tinubu and Obi disqualified except they contest the election with their previous running mates.

It noted that “The Electoral Act makes no provisions whatsoever for placeholder or temporary running mates. The acts of the 2nd (APC), 3rd (Tinubu), 5th (Labour Party) and 6th (Obi) defendants in nominating and forwarding the names of the 4th (Masari) and 7th (Okupe) defendants as running mates for the 2023 Presidential elections is valid and subsisting.”

But speaking during an Arise TV interview on Friday, Festus Okoye, the INEC Commissioner for Information and Voter Education Committee, said he was unaware if the commission had been served with the court processes as the INEC chairman, himself and other national commissioners had just returned from Osun State where they held meetings with stakeholders ahead of Saturday’s governorship election in the state.

Okoye, however, noted that only the court could decide if the presidential candidates who swapped their running mates could be disqualified on those bases.

“So, I am not aware of whether we’ve been served with any document relating to any suit of the complexion that you have talked about. But let me just say that if a matter is in court, the matter is sub-judice and we are not supposed to comment on it. Secondly, when political parties submitted the names of their presidential candidates and their vice-presidential candidates, there was no provision for a placeholder in the forms they submitted. They submitted the forms for their presidential candidates and they submitted the forms for the vice-presidential candidates and that is the situation.

“However, if you look at section 33 of the Electoral 22, it says that a political party shall not be allowed to substitute or change its candidate whose name has been submitted under section 29 of the Electoral Act, except in the case of death or withdrawal by the candidate. But it goes ahead to say that provided that in the case of such a withdrawal or death of the candidate, the political parties affected shall within occurrence of the event hold a fresh primary election to produce and submit a fresh candidate to the commission for the election concerned.

“This is the particular position that we are following. In the case of Senatorial candidates and House of Representatives candidates and so on and so forth, it is mandatory for them to hold fresh party primaries (after) the withdrawal of their candidates.

Okoye added, “But in the case of a presidential candidate and in the case of a governorship candidate, the political parties nominate a vice presidential candidate and also a deputy governorship candidate. Whether they are candidates or not and whether they are supposed to go into the fresh 14-day primaries, I am not in a position to make a determination in relation to that.”

 

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