BREAKING: Ayade not eligible to run for Senate in 2023 – INEC
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said the incumbent Governor of Cross River State, Prof Ben Ayade is not eligible to run for Senate in the 2023 general elections.
TheNewsGuru.com (TNG) reports Mike Igini, INEC’s Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) made this known when he featured on Sunrise Daily, a Channels Television programme.
According to Igini, the APC ought to have at least notified INEC 21 days before conducting her primary as stipulated in the electoral act 2022, and before conducting her re-run but the memo was only served on the 6th and the election was conducted on the 13th of July, which is against the commission’s guidelines.
“Secondly, only death is statutory for the substitution of candidates as INEC has no room for placeholders in the electoral act,” the INEC’s REC argued.
TNG reports Governor Ayade last Thursday emerged as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for Cross River North Seat at the National Assembly for the 2023 poll.
Ayade, who emerged unopposed, was elected at a fresh primary election at the Ogoja Local Government Area (LGA) of the State. The election followed the voluntary withdrawal of Mr Martins Orim, who won the ticket at the May 28 primaries.
Mrs Sameera Tabo, Chairperson of the APC Primary Election Committee for Cross River North declared the Governor winner with 252 votes. The total votes cast was 255, while three votes were invalidated.
According to Tabo, following Orim’s withdrawal, the fresh primary election was to ensure that the party fielded a candidate for Cross River North under the provisions of the Electoral Act.
In his acceptance speech, Ayade expressed gratitude to the delegates for electing him. He said that after running for the office of the president of Nigeria, he returned home and then came under pressure from his people to contest for Senate.
“They said I did very well when I was a Senator from 2011 to 2015 and insisted I go back; today I have answered their call. Of course, they recognised that this country requires a legislator that has both executive and legislative experience.
“I am very experienced, I know the challenges of our people and possess the essential elements that will help us make the appropriate laws and legislation that will change the narrative of our people,” he said.
The governor said he was well equipped for the senate and would bring his wealth of experience to bear in the upper legislative chamber if elected.
Meanwhile, speaking further, Igini stressed that it is an offence under the electoral act 2022 for politicians to obtain multiple nomination forms.
“A person who signs a nomination paper or result form as a candidate in more than one constituency at the same election [commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a maximum term of imprisonment for two years],” section 115 (D) of the electoral act 2022 reads.
Igini said by “constituency”, the electoral act 2022 refers to separate elections whether it is presidential, governorship, senatorial, the house of representatives or that of the state assembly.
He said any candidate who runs afoul of this law is liable to be jailed for two years, and that section 115 (3) even states that any attempt to obtain multiple forms is an offence.
“Section 115 (D) of the 2022 electoral act stipulates that no person shall sign, obtain more than one form as a candidate for different elections,” he said.
“And the offence for that under subsection K, beyond the financial, he will go two years’ imprisonment.
“Some people are claiming that they participated in one election, that they filled two forms; it’s ignorance of the law and it’s not an excuse.
“We are preventing them from being candidates for prison and they are calling our names everywhere.
“There are many candidates that have done this. INEC can only point you in that direction; that’s what we can do.
“People walk their way to prison when they say that they bought two forms. Section 115 (D) prohibits that.
“In fact, subsection 3 of 115 says that even that attempt itself will be treated as the offence.
“If you bought two forms for different constituencies at the same time as a candidate. If they bought two forms like we have been hearing, they have run afoul of the law already.
“Because a state assembly election is a constituency, house of representatives is a constituency, senatorial is a constituency, governorship is a constituency, presidential is one constituency.”
Igini had insisted that INEC did not monitor the primaries that produced Godswill Akpabio, former governor of Akwa Ibom, as the senatorial candidate for Akwa Ibom north-west.
Akpabio had contested the presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC), but he withdrew from the race on June 7, and asked his supporters to back Bola Tinubu, former Lagos governor.
Prior to the presidential primary election, on May 27, Udom Ekpoudom, former deputy inspector-general of police (DIG), had won the primary election organised for the Akwa Ibom north-west senatorial ticket.
However, a parallel primary election was conducted that was won by Ekperikpe Ekpo, but which was later cancelled over irregularities, while a rerun was conducted on June 8, with Akpabio declared as the winner of the exercise.
Ahmad Lawan, senate president, after losing the APC presidential ticket reportedly asked Bashir Machina, winner of the Yobe North senatorial primary election, to relinquish the ticket.
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