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No Plans For Independent Candidature – INEC

The Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Kayode Idowu, on Friday, said that the electoral umpire does not have any plans to allow independent candidature for now.

Kayode Idowu who featured as a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Friday defended comments made by Attahiru Jega, concerning defecting lawmakers, noting that what he said was already in the law.

“The law provides that if you leave a political party on which you were elected, for another party, without a proof of a division within your party, that you leave office.”

“The Law provides that the Senate President has to declare the seat vacant before INEC comes in to conduct an election. If it happens in the House of Reps, the Speaker of the House, has to declare the seat vacant before INEC can come in, and it happens in the House of Assembly, the same thing happens.”

However, he maintained that the INEC Chairman was only ensuring that the law was obeyed, adding that “if those seats are not declared vacant, INEC has no business” there.

Mr Idowu further argued that the statement by the INEC Chairman, was in a bid to promote peace in the electoral process and eliminate part of the sources of tension and friction, caused by the trend of decamping, which he said does not promote the democratic process.

“It doesn’t promote peace within and among the parties.”

Asked if the contributions of political candidates in winning seats should be considered in the matter, Idowu said that the role of INEC is to ensure that political parties are in accordance with the constitutions they have drawn up.

“INEC does not draw these constitutions for them. Neither does INEC run these constitutions for them. All INEC does is to hold them to account on the basis of their own constitution and law.”

He noted that there were contradictions in the Electoral Act, including Section 31(1) which states that INEC cannot reject any candidate nominated by a party, whereas, Section 87 provides that a candidate should emerge through democratic primaries.

He also disclosed that the electoral umpire had discovered cases where candidates who did not take part in primaries were presented to contest elections; however, they could not be rejected based on Section 31.

On the suggestion that INEC should provide for independent candidature, Idowu said that this was prohibited by the law and that “it’s not something that INEC has put it in its recommendations (submitted to the National Assembly) for now.

He stressed that logistics also have to be considered in allowing independent candidacy as ballot papers may be too long.

In other climes, there are several criteria for candidates to meet before they can be considered for slots on the ballot paper.

Speaking on the budgetary allocation for INEC towards the 2015 elections, Idowu said that there had been complains about the machines being used and that the laptops used in the 2011 elections may not be in shape in 2015.


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