In order to accommodate the nominations of Ahmad Lawan and Godswill Akpabio as senatorial candidates for the general elections of 2023, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Tuesday denied altering and backdating papers.
Additionally, INEC stated that “none of the two individuals” has been recognized as a senatorial candidate.
Both Mr. Lawan, the current Senate President, and Mr. Akpabio ran for president of the All Progressives Congress in the Bola Ahmed Tinubu-won primary.
While most Senate primaries had already been held before the presidential primary, both have chosen to run for the Yobe North and Akwa Ibom North West senatorial districts, respectively. This has sparked debate about whether it is lawful for them to do so.
INEC stated on Tuesday that the case is still pending in court in a statement that was signed by National Commissioner Festus Okoye.
Read the Commission’s full statement below:
INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION
SPURIOUS ALLEGATIONS IN RESPECT OF NOMINATION OF CANDIDATES IN SOME SENATORIAL DISTRICTS
Not for the first time, our attention has been drawn to a story published by an online medium that the Commission has doctored, backdated and certified documents to accommodate the nominations emanating from Yobe North and Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial Districts in respect of Senators Ahmed Lawan and Godswill Akpabio. Nothing can be further from the truth.
As evidence of the alleged role played by the Commission, a certified true copy of Form 9C uploaded by their political party and received by the Commission on 17th June 2022 when the nomination portal closed was presented.
For clarity, the Form EC9 (submission of names of candidates by political parties) is the Form uploaded by parties on the INEC nomination portal. This is clearly indicated on the title of the Form which was received on 17th June 2022 when the portal closed.
What follows is the publication of the personal particulars of nominated candidates which was done a week later. The Forms of the two personalities in question were not published by the Commission. The decision of the Commission triggered legal action which are still ongoing. It therefore defies logic and common sense to go around and submit doctored documents purportedly recognising the duo as candidates when the matter is clearly sub-judice.
As part of the ongoing case in Court, a law firm requested the Commission for a Certified True Copy (CTC) of the Form EC9 submitted by the All Progressives Congress (APC) as its candidate for Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District which we are duty bound to oblige them under the law. The Form was certified on 15th July 2022. If minimum care has been exercised by the promoters of the story, they would have seen the two stamps of the Commission bearing different dates on the Form. It is this Form that is now misconstrued as INEC’ s endorsement.
For the record, the Commission has not recognised any of the two personalities as a Senatorial candidate.
We call for responsible reportage as against the unwarranted attack on the Commission and its officials over a matter than can be easily fact checked.
Festus Okoye Esq.
National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee
Tuesday 9th August 2022.