The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has excluded Ahmad Lawan, senate president; David Umahi, Ebonyi State governor and Godswill Akpabio, former governor of Akwa Ibom State from the list of All Progressives Congress (APC) senatorial candidates.
The trio had been listed by the APC as candidates for Yobe North, Ebonyi South and Akwa Ibom North-west senatorial districts, respectively.
However, in the list published by the commission on Friday, Lawan, Umahi and Akpabio were said to have been excluded.
The development comes on the heels of controversy over the APC Yobe north senatorial ticket, as well as issues over senatorial primaries featuring Akpabio and Umahi.
Although APC had fixed its senatorial primaries for May, Umahi, Lawan and Akpabio were said to have participated in primaries organised by the APC after the trio contested the APC presidential ticket and lost earlier in June.
Festus Okoye, INEC spokesperson who spoke on the development in an interview with Channels Television, said the umpire is not under obligation to publish the names of candidates submitted by political parties if there are questions over the validity of primaries featuring such candidates.
“If you look at section 29(1) of the Electoral Act 2022, section 29 says ‘every political party shall not later than 180 days before the date appointed for a general election under this Act, submit to the commission in the prescribed forms, the list of the candidates it proposes to support at the election, who must have emerged from valid primaries conducted by the political parties’,” he said.
“The commission does not submit the list of candidates. It is the political parties themselves that has been given the locus to submit this particular list and in this case, there is no personal interference between the commission and the political parties.
“We open the portal — what we called ‘candidate nomination portal’ — and we give an access code to the national chairman of each of the political parties that conducted primaries with which they upload the list and personal particulars of their nominated candidates.
“So, if a political party has uploaded the list and personal particulars of a candidate that did not emerge from valid party primary, INEC is not under a constitutional and legal obligation to publish the particulars of such a candidate.”
Okoye added that a candidate who was validly nominated at a primary, but whose name was excluded by the party, can seek redress from a competent court.
He also said the list published on Friday is not the final document for the 2023 polls, adding that the final list will be published at a later date.