- The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has denied claims that it would disqualify aspirants with court cases
- INEC said that those pendling such reports do so with evil motives
- The commission said it has no constitutional power to disqualify any aspirant from contesting in the 2019 elections
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has again dismissed claims that it would disqualify politicians with court cases from contesting future elections in the country
Prince Adedeji Solomon Soyemi, INEC's commissioner on publicity said that those involved in such rumoured mongering do so to push out their opponents from contest, Vanguard reports.
The claims went viral when anti-corruption agencies, like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), arraigned some major political aspirants in court over alleged money-laundering linked to 2015 campaign funding.
Prince Soyemi insisted that the commission has no constitutional backing to disqualify any candidate submitted by the political parties for a nomination. He said: “We have been inundated with this baseless insinuation, which we have denounced because INEC has no power whatsoever to disqualify any political aspirant or candidate as the case may be.
“The rumours have been trending on social media alleging that INEC will not issue forms to anyone with a pending case of embezzlement before the security agencies or any court. The story is completely false and baseless and could not have emanated from the Commission.
“As we have stated repeatedly, grounds for disqualification are clearly spelt out in the 1999 Constitution as amended. There is no way whatsoever to act outside the Constitutional provisions to disqualify anyone.”
Meanwhile, an Abuja- based lawyer, Barrister Yunus Abdulsalam reported to officials of PRNigeria that apart from constitutional provisions, only the judiciary can disqualify a candidate from contesting in any poll.
Yunus said: “For INEC to disqualify a candidate over an allegation of graft will amount to a clear violation of Section 36(5) of the 1999 constitution (as amended).. That constitutional provision clothed all candidates with the garment of a presumption of innocence until proven guilty by a competent court of law.
“Such disqualification will amount to a penalty and INEC by law did not have such power. The power to penalise is exclusively that of the judicial arm of government. This position was reiterated by the supreme court in the case of Action Congress and others Versus INEC which Reference SC 69/2007.
“We should also remember that the then Presidential candidate of APC in 2015 was also a beneficiary of INEC insistence of not disqualifying any candidate when his school certificate issue came up and there was no court verdict to disqualify and INEC refused to do otherwise.”
One of the trending messages quoting INEC on the issue reads: “We will not sell forms to Anybody with a pending case of Embezzlement, under Investigations either Police, SSS, EFCC, ICPC or in any Court – INEC “The Stage is set. The Drama is about to start."
"The effort to sanitize the political system by Buhari is about to begin. Only clean candidates shall come onboard, enough is enough for the corrupt politicians whose aim is to deprive our children their future, we shall not allow them again to play on our collective intelligentsia as Nigerians.”
Meanwhile, Legit.ng reports that the chairman of the INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, had said electronic voting would not be used in 2019 elections.
Yakubu said this in Abuja on Wednesday, April 11, at the end opening of a three-day International Conference of Election Management Bodies (EMBs) in West and Southern African countries in Abuja themed “Opportunities and Challenges in the Use of Technology: Experiences from West and Southern Africa”.
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