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INEC tasks parties on qualified candidates for Edo, Ondo guber polls

Anthony Iwuoma

Obviously stung by the abortion of the swearing in of David Lyon of the All Progressives Congress, APC, as governor of Bayelsa State at the last minute, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has warned political parties against fielding unqualified candidates for the gubernatorial elections in Edo and Ondo states later this year.

David Lyon’s election was nullified by a five-man panel of the Supreme Court on February 13, 2020 because his deputy, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, reportedly submitted forged certificates to INEC.

Consequently, INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, speaking during a meeting with Resident Electoral Commissioners in Abuja yesterday, insisted that political parties must nominate only eligible candidates to participate in the Edo and Ondo guber polls on September 19 and October 10, 2020, respectively.

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The INEC chair said: “Governorship elections in Edo and Ondo are holding later in the year. Given recent experiences with some governorship elections, political parties need to do more to avoid the conduct of acrimonious primaries or failure to observe due diligence in the screening of their candidates, resulting in protracted litigations and eventual determination of the outcome of elections by orders of court.”

Speaking further, Yakubu said: “I wish to draw the attention of political parties to two critical dates in the timetable released by the commission a few weeks ago. Party primaries for the democratic election and nomination of candidates for the governorship election in Edo State must be held from 2nd to 27th June 2020. The date for Ondo State is 2nd to 25th July 2020. The commission will not extend the dates. We will also rigorously monitor the primaries and where necessary, apply sanctions as provided by law.”

Yakubu also disclosed that personal details of and academic qualifications of all the candidates nominated by the parties for the Edo and Ondo elections would be displayed publicly on July 6 (Edo State) and on August 4 (Ondo State) to enable the people to scrutinise them and possibly seek legal actions against those that submit forged information to the commission., adding that it would help check the trend whereby the courts decide result of elections.

Mr. Umar Mukhtar Gajiram and Dr. Jonson Alalibo Sinikem, who were sworn in last month as RECs for Taraba and Cross River states, attended the meeting for the first time.