SAN FRANCISCO, April 04, (THEWILL) – Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has observed that some of those thrown up by political parties’ primaries to contest elections in the country are ex-convicts and certificate forgers, regretting that the commission has no power to disqualify such candidates.
He stated this on Monday while enumerating the challenges to free elections in the country at a stakeholders’ validation conference on the 2017 to 2011 strategic plan of the national electoral body.
The stakeholders’ conference was attended by election stakeholders, including chairmen of political parties, civil society groups, representatives of the media and strategic partners of the commission who subjected the strategic plan to extensive review.
INEC disclosed that 202 of its staff indicted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, over the 2015 elections and the 23 others implicated by the Police report on the conduct of the Rivers rerun polls would remain on half salary until they proved their innocence or otherwise.
Responding to questions and observations from stakeholders, Yakubu dismissed insinuations of the commission’s poor rate of conclusion of elections, asserting that 75 per cent of the 167 elections conducted under his watch were concluded successfully.
He identified one of the many causes of inconclusive elections or litigations as the inclination of political parties to circumvent the law by throwing up unqualified candidates.
“In some cases some of the candidates nominated actually shouldn’t have been nominated because if the parties are doing due diligence, we will never have the kind of problems we have had with the numerous elections nullified on account of party primaries arising from the nomination of people who under the law are not qualified to contest for election.
“We saw in some of the court charges that some parties nominated ex-convicts to stand for election and INEC has no power to reject, only that the force of law will be there to nullify the elections after they have been conducted.
“We had in some cases certificate forgers participated in elections only for the elections to be nullified and INEC will, because of that, be compelled to conduct the elections afresh. The parties are here, they need to have the mechanism by which they can have transparency at the party primaries before their nominees are submitted to the commission,” Yakubu said.
Speaking on the fate of the indicted officials, the INEC boss said, “In Rivers, the Director of Public Prosecutions of the Federation is currently prosecuting 23 staff of the commission, we have already invoked the terms and conditions of the commission and placed all the 23 staff on interdiction, and are on half salaries until they proved their innocence or guilt and we are going to do the same to the list of 202 staff accused by the EFCC covering 14 states of the federation.”
SOURCE: The Nigerian Voice (local news)