Politics

INEC excludes APC, candidate from Bayelsa West senatorial bye-election

All Progressives Congress (APC) Nigeria

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has declared that the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate, Peremobowei Ebebi, will not participate in the Bayelsa West senatorial bye-election.

Wilfred Ifogah, the Head of Voter Education and Publicity, INEC, Bayelsa State, made the declaration in a press release he issued on behalf of the state Resident Electoral Commissioner on Thursday.

INEC had scheduled the bye-election for Bayelsa Central and Bayelsa West to hold on October 31 but shifted it to December 5 as a result of the nationwide #EndSARS protests.

Ifogah explained that the commission’s decision to exclude the APC and Ebebi from the Bayelsa West senatorial contest was in compliance with the two separate judgments of the Federal High Court, Yenagoa.

He said the court’s rulings restrained the commission from including the logo and name of the APC and its candidate on the ballot in the suits with numbers FHC/YNG/CS/60/2020 and FHC/YNG/CS/66/2020.

Ifogah, therefore, declared that only 12 instead of the initially cleared 13 political parties would participate in the Bayelsa West senatorial bye-election.

He said, “The Independent National Electoral Commission wishes to inform the good people of Bayelsa State, especially the electorate and stakeholders in Bayelsa West Senatorial District, that the conduct of the election into the vacant seat, which was initially scheduled for 31 October, 2020, has been rescheduled to hold on December 5, 2020 with only 12 political parties qualified to participate.

“The above reduction in parties participating is in compliance to the Federal High judgments in suit number FHC/YNG/CS 60/2020 and FHC/YNG/CS/66/2020 which restrained the Independent National Electoral Commission from including the name and logo of the candidate of the All Progressives Congress for Bayelsa West Senatorial District, Peremobowei Ebebi.”

It would be recalled that the Federal High Court in Yenagoa presided over by Justice Jane Inyang had on November 3 disqualified Ebebi as the APC candidate from the Bayelsa West senatorial bye-election in two-related cases of alleged forgery.

The court also nullified the primary election of the party which produced the former deputy governor of the state as the party’s candidate.

The suits were filed separately by Richman Samuel, a former director of Domestic Matters, Government House, Yenagoa, and some registered members of the APC from the senatorial district.

The plaintiffs contended that the academic credentials and voter’s card which the defendant submitted to the INEC for the bye-election were forged documents.

Ebebi had vowed to appeal the judgments, contending that the court did not have the jurisdiction to entertain the matters.

However, the APC campaign organisation for the Bayelsa West senatorial bye-election has rejected INEC’s decision to strike out the party and its candidate from the exercise, describing it as “ill-conceived and unilateral.”

The Director-General of the campaign group, Offoni Williams, said the commission’s action was politically motivated, stressing that the electoral umpire had “flagrantly abused due process because they are aware that the Federal High Court in Yenagoa is not the final arbiter.

He said, “The decision of INEC to exclude our party and our candidate from the bye-election is a deliberate measure to set confusion in the minds of our teeming supporters. They refused to allow the party to exhaust all legal opportunities available to us.”

Ebebi could not be reached for comments as he neither answered calls placed to his phone nor reply to a text message sent to him by our correspondent as of the time of filing this report.

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