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Akpoti’s disqualification: INEC weighs options, may appeal judgment

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said it might appeal to the Abuja Federal High Court ruling, which ordered the Commission to restore Mrs. Natasha Akpoti of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) as a candidate in the November 16 governorship election in Kogi State.

The Commission, however, said it would comply with the court order, by including the party on the ballot paper. 

INEC Director of Publicity and Voter Education, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, disclosed this in an interview with The Guardian in Abuja.  

He said the Commission was studying the court judgment and would take a definite position upon seeking legal advice. 

Justice Folashade Ogunbanjo-Giwa, who delivered the judgment, held that INEC was wrong to have excluded Akpoti from the election, arguing that the Commission has no power to disqualify any candidate, as it is the exclusive reserve of a competent court of law.

She based her judgment on the provisions of sections 31(1) and 83 of the Electoral Act, which provided that INEC cannot disqualify or reject a candidate nominated by a political party for an election.

INEC had disqualified Mrs. Akpoti and her party, SDP, for nominating an unqualified deputy governorship candidate.

The electoral umpire had refused to accept the nomination of Mr. Adams Khalid in replacement of the earlier nominated running mate, Mohammed Yakubu.

In her reaction, Akpoti told The Guardian she was surprised the Commission was going further. 

She said: “For the electoral umpire to contemplate appeal further confirmed allegations that it was pursuing a particular interest. The judgment was very clear in quoting the electoral Act, which states that INEC has no right to reject or disqualify a candidate…”

Meanwhile, the gubernatorial election might suffer another postponement, if the SDP candidate’s statement is anything to go by.

Saying she would push for a postponement, Akpoti told The Guardian that the move is to enable her party to have time to sell its programme to the electorate. 

She said: “We will definitely ask for a postponement of the election to allow us to meet up with our opponents in preparation for the election. We were illegally excluded and not allowed to take our messages of hope to the good people of Kogi State.”

 


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