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Parties sign peace pact, coalition wants INEC to defend democracy 


Mrs. Hilda Ibifuro-Harrison

Mrs. Hilda Ibifuro-Harrison

As part of measures to ensure violence-free polls, candidates in the governorship election yesterday signed a peace pact in Akure, the state capital.The state Commissioner of Police, Mrs. Hilda Ibifuro-Harrison, said the police conducted the deal, which also involved party chairmen, secretaries and legal officers.

She said: “The politicians signed the peace pact to run issues-based campaigns before and during the election. They also agreed to refrain from campaigns of calumny, religious sentiments, ethnic chauvinism or tribal jingoism, both by themselves and all agents in their names.”

She announced that over 24, 000 officers and men would be deployed from the Force Headquarters for the polls,The CP condemned the violence that took place recently at Owo, despite the peace talks with party chieftains and stakeholders.She said the police was on the trail of those who carried out the violence, adding that they would be prosecuted as a deterrent to others.

The governorship candidate of the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP), Mrs. Olamide Falana and the state Chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Korede Duyile, lauded the police for their proactive roles.

They urged the police to prevent financial inducement at the polling units and asked for more security in the rural areas. Meanwhile, ahead of the release of the final list of governorship candidates, a pro-democracy coalition has petitioned the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to follow the path of established principles of law and decisions of the Supreme Court.

Submitting a petition to the commission in Abuja yesterday, entitled, “Candidates List for Ondo State: INEC Must Stand Up for Democracy,” the group specifically urged the commission to apply the various judgements of the Supreme Court in determining the rightful candidates of the various political parties, especially that of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) where there seems to be contention.

Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution (CDNDC) said that from its investigation, the Supreme Court has settled the fact that only the national executive organ of a party can validly submit to INEC the names of the party’s candidates in a general election. 

In a statement by it conveners, Ariyo-Dare Atoye, Ilemona Onaja, Ojugo Onyeluka, the coalition cited the judgements of the apex court in Emeka vs Okadigbo & Ors (2012) 18 NWLR (pt1331) 55; Emenike vs PDP (2012) 18 NWLR (pt 1315) 556; Oguebego vs PDP.

“To the effect that the appropriate organ of a party empowered to conduct primaries and submit names of its candidates for the purposes of general election is the National Executive Committee,” the statement stressed.

CDNDC equally referred to a subsisting judgement of Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court in Okonkwo vs INEC, which asserted that: “It is settled law that the state executive committee organ of a political party lacks power to nominate candidates for an election. It is only the primary election conducted by the national executive committee of a party that is valid to be submitted to INEC for the purpose of an election and no other arm.”

The group, however, observed that there was no contention before INEC as to who was the rightful leadership of the PDP, since various judgements of the Federal High Court have upheld the legitimacy of the Ahmed Makarfi led National Caretaker Committee (NEC).  

According to CDNDC: “The judgements of the Federal High Court on the PDP leadership, delivered by Justices Abdulahi Liman, Valentine Ashi and Nnwamaka Ogbonnaya; the combined import of which have validated and authenticated the Ahmed Makarfi-led NEC of the PDP.

“When read together, these judgements point to the fact that only the Makarfi-led PDP NEC can submit names of candidates to INEC. This was in Edo State and it has also been done in respect of Ondo State, and no any other body or institution has the power to act otherwise.”

CDNDC described any legal voyage alter this known position of the law as “an exercise in futility,” meant to distract INEC and create an electoral logjam that could undermine the neutrality and consistency of the commission on PDP matters.

The coalition, however, noted that it was difficult to ascertain if the factional candidate was in the first place a member of the PDP, referring to an exclusive interview the businessman granted Trace Magazine on June 19, 2016 where he admitted his membership of the Accord Party (AP).

It stated: “He has never denied that; what INEC must try to ascertain is whether a member of one political party can contest on the platform of another party irrespective of a procured court order. “We urge INEC to take cognizance of all these facts and act appropriately in the interest of democracy and political justice.”

The group also urged INEC not to fall for any political blackmail, cautioning that if any person or group is allowed to subvert due process, this could create serious problem for the commission as “more desperate politicians could exploit that in future.”

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