Obiageli Ezekwesili.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has challenged political parties to conduct credible primaries for the nomination of candidates in a bid to strengthen the electoral jurisprudence in the country.

This is according to the electoral umpire’s Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, during the presentation of certificate of return to Governor-elect, deputy Governor-elect, Senators-elect and members of the House of Representatives-elect from Zamfara state on Monday.

He added that a total of 64 certificates of return had been withdrawn and issued to persons declared winners by courts of law, and the commission is still studying nine more judgments.

Below is a statement by the INEC Chairman at the event:

REMARKS BY THE CHAIRMAN, INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION (INEC), PROFESSOR MAHMOOD YAKUBU, ON THE OCCASION OF THE PRESENTATION OF CERTIFICATES OF RETURN TO GOVERNOR-ELECT, DEPUTY GOVERNOR-ELECT, SENATORS-ELECT AND MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES-ELECT FROM ZAMFARA STATE HELD AT INEC ELECTORAL INSTITUTE, ABUJA, ON MONDAY 27TH MAY 2019

  1. I welcome you all on behalf of the Commission to this occasion. The presentation of certificates of return to winners of any election conducted by INEC is a statutory responsibility required of the Commission under Sec. 75 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended). In compliance with the judgement of the Supreme Court, twelve certificates of return will be presented at this occasion to the Governor-elect, Deputy Governor-elect, three Senators-elect and seven Members of the House of Representatives-elect. On Friday this week, twenty-four certificates will be presented in Gusau to winners of the State Assembly elections.

2. I want to reiterate the importance of conducting proper primaries before elections in order to reduce the spate of litigation associated with them. At the moment, there are 809 pre-election cases pending in various courts across the country challenging the conduct of primaries by political parties for the 2019 general elections. This is clearly more than the total number of petitions currently before the various election petition tribunals nationwide challenging the outcome of the main elections. In our last update, the Commission reported that 25 certificates of return had been withdrawn and issued to persons declared winners by courts of law. Since then, three more certificates have been withdrawn by court order. With the Zamfara case, the figure has now risen to 64. In addition, the Commission is studying nine more judgements we were served in the last one week in which primary elections conducted by different political parties were upturned by the courts.

The Zamfara example is not the first pre-election case determined by the Supreme Court arising from the recent party primaries. Earlier, the apex court had determined the case of Lere Federal Constituency in Kaduna State which the Commission had already complied with and issued the certificate of return to the winner. It is therefore important to continue to emphasise to our political parties their obligation to conduct credible primaries for the nomination of candidates. Our democracy in particular and electoral process in general can never be virile unless political parties rise to the challenge of internal party democracy. It is in this context that the latest judgements of the Supreme Court are crucial steps in strengthening our electoral jurisprudence. Going forward, we will not accept the submission of names of candidates by political parties under Sec. 31of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) unless there is evidence, monitored by the Commission, of compliance with the provision of Sec. 87 of the Act. Party members interested in contesting elections start as aspirants before they emerge as candidates through the democratic process of direct or indirect primaries enshrined in Sec. 87 of the Electoral Act. It is only after they comply with this requirement of the law can their names be submitted to INEC under Sec. 31. We shall continue to work with the political parties to ensure strict compliance.

Let me once again remind political parties that we have exactly 171 days to the Bayelsa and Kogi governorship elections scheduled for 16 November 2019. Party primaries are scheduled to be conducted between 2nd and 29thAugust 2019. Let us make the two elections shining examples of internal democracy by the way the political parties conduct their primary elections. This will no doubt have a positive impact on the conduct of the proper elections.

Once again, I welcome you all to this occasion and remind the winners that there is a lot of work ahead of us in order to consolidate our democracy and serve Nigerians better.

Thank you and God bless.


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