The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has disqualified fourteen candidates whose for the November 16 governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states, because their nominations were “invalid”.
In a statement released on Friday in Abuja, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, said nineteen other parties willingly withdrew from the polls.
Okoye said that at the close of nomination, 23 political parties were cleared in Kogi, with 18 parties withdrawing from the race, while one party withdrew in Bayelsa, leaving 45 political parties in the race.
The disqualified candidates from Bayelsa are: Victor E. Izofapei of PDC (30years old); Deborah Ade of SDP (31);Peter David of ANDP (34); Princes Owali Willaims of PPM (27); Lucky Opio of RDMP (32); Sadjere Regan (31); and O. Ikolid Ayebanda of YPP ( 34).
Meanwhile, Musa Sodique of APP (34) and Usman Mihamemd I of DPP (31) were rejected from Kogi state.
The list of running mates disqualified are: Ibrahim A. Abdullahi of ANP (32); A. Bala of APM (30); Omeiza Vincent of APP (34); Yinka Adeoye of ASD (33); Titus Adedeji Sunday of MRDD (33); Mohammed Bashiru Yakubu of SDP (34); and Abubakar Aminat Mohammad of UPP (33)
In the statement, Okoye said: “At the close of the time stipulated by sections 31, 33 and 35 of Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) for the submission of the names of nominated candidates, 49 nominations were received for Kogi.
“Out of these, 41 nominations were valid, while eight were invalid. Subsequently, 18 political parties withdrew from contesting the elections. Therefore, 23 political parties will contest the governorship election in Kogi.
“For Bayelsa State, a total of 52 nominations were received. Out of these, 46 were valid while six were invalid.
“One political party has since withdrawn from the contest, leaving a total of 45 political parties to contest the governorship election in Bayelsa.’’
Okoye recalled that INEC monitored the primaries conducted for nomination of candidates for the two states and also made public its preliminary review of the list and personal particulars submitted by the parties at the close of nomination.
“After the review, we disclosed that some of the nominated candidates for governorship and deputy were below the minimum age prescribed by the constitution and that the Commission was considering further action.
“In a letter dated Sept. 13, the Commission notified the concerned political parties of the invalidity of their nominations.
“In Bayelsa State, six of the nominated governorship and/or deputy governorship candidates were affected, while in Kogi State there were eight such nominees.
“Some of the affected parties have written the Commission admitting their error and requesting to submit new nominees to replace the under-aged ones.
“However, this was after the deadline for submission of nominations on September 9, 2019. As such, the Commission could not accept any fresh nominations.
“In like manner, since the parties did not submit valid nominations before the deadline, they cannot substitute the candidates on the grounds of death or voluntary withdrawal, in accordance with the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), which assumes the prior existence of valid nominations.’’
Okoye said that members of the public may recall that just before the 2019 general elections, INEC had cause to draw the attention of political parties to the same problem of nominating under-aged candidates.
“That communication was a notice to the parties that future violation of such a basic provision of the Constitution will be unacceptable and could lead to severe consequences.
“Accordingly, the Commission has informed the affected parties that their names and logos will not appear on the ballots for the Bayelsa and Kogi governorship elections due to the invalidity of their nominations.’’
He said that in compliance with section 34 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), the full names and addresses of all candidates standing nominated would be published in the relevant offices on Monday, September 30.
He added that it would also be made available on the INEC website.
Addressing reporters earlier this month at the close of nomination for the elections, Okoye had confirmed that 101 political parties nominated candidates for the polls from the two states.
Okoye said that though 64 political parties conducted primaries in Bayelsa State and 59 in Kogi, some of them did not submit any list and personal information of their candidates, while a few others failed to submit before the deadline.
He added: “From our records, 64 political parties conducted primaries in Bayelsa as against 59 in Kogi.
“Out of these, 52 political parties from Bayelsa and 49 from Kogi respectively submitted the lists of candidates and their personal particulars at the close of nomination at 6pm. on Monday, September 9.
“While some of the political parties that conducted primaries did not submit any lists and personal particulars of candidates, a few failed to submit within the time limit prescribed by the commission.
“Out of the 101 nominees for the two states, 91 are males, representing 90 per cent, while 10 are females, representing 10 per cent of all the nominees.
“Of the 52 nominees for Bayelsa, six are females, while 46 are males. The corresponding figures for Kogi are four females and 45 male nominees.”