The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof Mahmud Yakubu, has called on political parties to carry out necessary checks before nominating candidates for elections.
The INEC chairman made the comment while speaking at the stakeholders’ validation conference on INEC’s Strategic Plan, in Abuja, on Tuesday.
He lamented that parties in some cases nominate ex-convicts and people with forged certificates as candidates for election, noting that INEC lacked the powers to prevent such candidates emerging from primaries to contest elections.
He said that the court could nullify such elections for the commission to conduct elections at a cost to the society.
“If a candidate that emerges from party primaries is changed, how can INEC intervene? We can only appeal to the political parties to respect their rules. The laws say that INEC has no power to reject names submitted by the headquarters of a party.
“In some cases, some of the candidates shouldn’t have been nominated. Some parties recommend ex-convicts for election, certificate forgery, only for the court to nullify that election and for INEC to conduct a fresh election. The parties should do basic due diligence.”
Yakubu said that the commission under his leadership would not take directive from any quarters in the performance of its electoral responsibilities.
Yakubu said that the commission would rather take its own decision and face the consequences of its actions.
Yakubu debunked the impression that the commission followed the position of the Attorney General of the Federal and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, on the impasse that followed the death of Alhaji Abubakar Audu in the last governorship election in Kogi.
The AGF had taken a position that the All Progressives Congress could substitute its late candidate, Audu, with the person who came second in the primaries, Yahaya Bello, who later became the Governor of Kogi State. This was the same position INEC took on the issue.
Yakubu argued that the position of the commission, which was taken after consultation with its legal department, was later backed by the judgment of the Supreme Court on the issue.
He stressed that the insinuation that the commission took instruction from the government was wrong as the commission, under his leadership, would be independent and not accept the directive from anywhere.
He said, “I have explained this over and over but I am going to say it again. About what happened in Kogi, it came with its own complications that challenged our electoral jurisprudence.
“There was the impression that our response came late and it came after the comment by the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, suggesting that there was an indication or inference that we took a cue from what he said. That wasn’t what transpired.
“The election was declared inconclusive and the APC candidate died on Sunday, the election was conducted on Saturday. We had a meeting on Monday, we looked at the laws, we sought the advice of our legal service department before we issued our statement. But people thought we took a cue from the AGF. No, we didn’t.”