INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed this to the Presidential candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, Obiageli Ezekwesili.
Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman Professor Mahmood Yakubu, told her such a step at this time is against the constitution as amended.
Candidates are free to withdraw their candidature but in Ezekwesili’s case the timing is the problem, says Rotimi Oyekanmi.
He said according to section 35 of the electoral act, “you can indicate that willingness not later than 45 days to the General Elections”.
The INEC Chairman’s spokesperson noted that in the 2019 schedule of activities, 17th of November 2018 was the last day for withdrawal or replacement of candidates.
Mr Oyekanmi further stressed that though Ezekwesili cannot be forced to participate in the election, still she cannot withdraw because that contravenes the law.
He said if she had indicated earlier, the opportunity would have been given to the party for a replacement, adding that now it is too late.
Dr Ezekwesili had earlier announced stepping down from the presidential election scheduled to hold on February 16.
The former minister had explained that she took the decision to help build a coalition to prevent the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from winning the election.
It claimed that the former minister withdrew without informing its leadership whose mandate she was holding.
The party also withdrew its support for the presidential campaign of Ezekwesili and endorsed the second term bid of President Muhammadu Buhari.