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News Break: Court will decide fate of those whose names are missing in party register submitted to commission – INEC Chairman, Yakubu

Godfrey Egbunike

Following the news making the round regarding the Delta State tribunal that disqualified Mr. Ngozi Okolie, a Labour Party legislator representing Aniocha/Oshimili federal constituency over missing name in the party’s register submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the Commission’s Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu earlier today, July 29, 2023 made a clarification on the issue of missing names in the party register submitted to the commission.

Prof. Yakubu while reacting to the question posed by the news men in Abuja stated that INEC had issued their guidelines before the primaries of each political party and such guidelines were in accordance with the new Electoral Act, 2022.

According to him, the new Electoral Act is clear on the issue of the submission of party register to the commission. He maintained that Section 77, subsection 2 to 3 made it clear. It’s clear in section 77 (2) two, that says “every registered political party shall maintain a register of its members in both hard and soft copy”.

In subsection (3) three, it went further to say that” each political party shall make such a register available to the Commission not later than 30 days before the date fixed for the party primary, congresses or convention”.

In his view, the word “shall” as used above should be taken into consideration as its indication is that no option was made available other than a political party complying to the above rules. Therefore, the decision of the court will apply in any circumstances where there is a default of that act.

According to him, the commission did not give any time for political parties who have already submitted their register to update it after the conduct of their primary election. This means that only the names that were in the register already submitted 30 days before the date fixed for the party primaries should be considered as legitimate. Anything short of this should be left for the court to decide.

He further asserted that for you to be a valid candidate of a party, you must be sponsored by a political party and your name must be found in the register your party submitted to the commission, if not you will risk disqualification when the matter goes to the tribunal, where the rules of the Electoral Act will be properly applied and interpreted.

It’s important for the citizens to know that many cases are in court nationwide as a result of this, but everyone focuses on the tribunal to decide the fate of those candidates whose names are not included in the party register that the commission has.

“It will be unreasonable for any political party to field candidates whose names are not included in the party register submitted to the commission 30 days before its primary. The reason for this law is to shun the movement of candidates who failed elections in other parties from going to constitute a nuisance in another party, thereby invariably reducing the number of litigations the court is usually faced with. But you will discover that some political parties, knowing that they already submitted their register to the INEC will still go and adopt a candidate who defected from another party in a bid to profit off the candidate’s desperation. This, I must say, is not healthy for our democracy,” Yakubu maintained.

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