INEC insists APC cannot field candidates in Rivers, Zamfara

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has insisted that the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Zamfara and Rivers States will not field candidates in the forthcoming general elections.

INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, said this on Thursday during a daily briefing ahead of Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly polls.

He said, “The position of the commission remains the position we announced before now. That the parties in question by court order and/by our understanding of the interpretation of the judgments of two courts of co-ordinate jurisdictions delivered same day in the case of Zamfara cannot field candidates in the 2019 general elections for the National Assembly, Governorship and State Assembly elections.”

He further explained that the court pronouncement restraining APC from participating in the polls does not affect the presidential elections.

Yakubu said Commission under his watch would always obey court orders, especially from a competent jurisdiction.

“The position of the Commission has not changed. Once Courts of law make pronouncements, all persons and authorities in the Federal Republic of Nigeria are duty bound to obey. But if the judgment is from the Supreme Court, that is the end to litigation,” he added.

The clarifications by the INEC Chairman is coming two weeks after two separate courts barred the APC in Zamfara and Rivers State from participating in the general elections.

In Zamfara, a three-man panel led by Justice Jummai Sankey unanimously dismissed the appeal following its withdrawal by the appellant, Aminu Jaji, an APC governorship candidate in the state.

The court held that Jaji was at liberty to withdraw the case based on Order 11, Rule 1, of the Appeal Court laws which permits an appellant to do so after serving a notice on the parties and filing same with the registrar, at any time before the appeal is called for hearing.

In the same vein, the Supreme Court on February 12 struck out three appeals filed by the two Rivers APC factions challenging a High Court ruling that barred INEC from recognising APC candidates for Rivers elections.

A five-man panel led by Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour, struck out the three remaining appeals filed by the APC, Ojukaye Flag-Amachree and Tonye Patrick Cole, challenging the court’s decision.

According to the court, the appeals were filed outside the time allowed under Section 285(9) and (12) of the Constitution as amended by the 4th Alteration Act.