Aggrieved aspirants reject INEC lists, begin multiple court cases

The lists of candidates contesting the 2023 elections have sparked multiple court cases by aggrieved aspirants in many states.

States, where aggrieved aspirants are challenging the lists include Ogun, Gombe, Plateau, Akwa Ibom, Benue, Kano, and Taraba.

Some of the aspirants, in separate interviews with The PUNCH, faulted the lists submitted by parties and published by the Independent National Electoral Commission.

Political parties had on June 17 submitted to the commission the lists of their candidates contesting the 2023 elections.

The electoral commission on Friday released lists of candidates vying for various positions at the federal level in the 2023 general elections.

In Ogun State, Sanya Akindele, the Media Aide to Senator Tolu Odebiyi, who lost the Ogun West senatorial primary to the incumbent senator representing the Lagos West, Olamilekan Adeola, said his principal was challenging Adeola’s nomination.

Akindele said “Yes, Senator Odebiyi is challenging the case in court. There was an injunction before the primary election stopping Yayi (Adeola) from partaking in the primary.

“It is an absurd holding mandate in two different states simultaneously or representing two wards. It makes a mockery of our democracy.”

But the Media Aide to Adeola, Kayode Odunaro, faulted Odebiyi for taking his boss to court.

Odebiyi said the senator was suffering from self-delusion for taking the move after he had lost at the appeal committee set up by the party.

The member representing the Ado-Odo/Ota in the House of Representatives, Jimoh Ojugbele, is challenging a former Commissioner for Forestry, Tunji Akinosi, whose name is on the INEC list.

Both Senator Odebiyi and Ojugbele filed their suit at the Federal High Court sitting in Abeokuta.

In the Akwa Ibom North-West, a former Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Udom Okpoudum, through his media director, Mr Peter Idiong, threatened that he would go to court if his name was not on the INEC list as the senatorial candidate.

Idiong, in an interview with The PUNCH, said, “ Ex-DIG Okpoudum is the authentic candidate for Akwa Ibom North-West senatorial district. We are not bothered about the list because we believe that INEC will do the right thing and give the ticket to our principal. And if they fail, we are going to take some measures, and we are likely going to court to challenge the process because INEC monitored the election. It would be a great disservice for INEC to monitor an election and at the end of it nothing is done.”

But the Chief Press Secretary to Akpabio, Mr Jackson Udom, said there was no cause for alarm.

In an interview with The PUNCH, Udom stated, “I don’t know what action my boss is going to take yet. He has not told me what action he is going to take and I cannot pre-empt anything. But we believe that Senator Akpabio’s name will be there.’’

A member of the House of Representatives on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party in Benue State Francis Ottah-Agbo, it was learnt, had gone to court to challenge the victory of Aida Ogwuche

The lawmaker who filed a case at the Federal High Court against the winner also joined the PDP and INEC that the candidate who worked at Federal Inland Revenue Service before her secondment to the Benue State government where she served as the principal assistant to the governor.

Agbo, who declined to comment on the case when contacted, is praying the court to nullify the election and retrieve the certificate of return.

Although INEC has yet to release the list of candidates, contesting elections at the state level, 18 aggrieved APC governorship aspirants in Plateau State kicked against the nomination of Dr Nentawe Yilwatda as the party’s governorship candidate in the state.

Chairman of the aspirants’ forum, Amos Gizo, who spoke on behalf of others in an interview with The PUNCH in Jos on Sunday, stated that the aspirants had not changed their position to challenge Yilwatda’s nomination.

Gizo said, “We have said it before that the emergence of Nentawe Yilwatda as the APC governorship candidate in Plateau State is not acceptable to us and we have not changed our position on that because the primary that produced him was a sham.

“If his name is on the INEC list as the party’s candidate, it will make no difference because his emergence is a product of fraud and we will not accept it. Some delegates have gone to court to challenge his emergence. We have also gone to the court to seek redress and we will not give up the fight until the right thing is done.”

But the APC Publicity Secretary in the state, Sylvanus Namang, questioned the credibility of the Gizo-led group.

He stated, “This is somebody (Gizo) who never participated in our party primaries. As far as the party is concerned, they were four persons that participated during the primary and Amos Gizo was not one of them. If he is still a member of the APC, he should understand that as a family member, you can disagree but once the primaries are over, you join hands with others to forge ahead to enable the party to win the main elections.”

In Gombe State, Bilyaminu Babadidi has instituted a case against the candidate of the APC for Gombe South Senatorial district, Joshua Lidani.

A source close to Babadidi said the case was filed at the Federal High Court Gombe.

In Taraba State, some APC governorship aspirants have dragged the party and Senator Emmanuel Bwacha to court seeking to stop him (Bwacha) from parading himself as the party governorship candidate in the state.

Former Head of Service of the Federation, Danladi Kifasi, approached the Federal High Court in Jalingo asking the court to stop the party from submitting the name of Bwacha.

Calls by one of our correspondents and a text message sent to the APC state Chairman, Ibrahim Tukur-Elsudi, did not elicit any response as of the time of filing this report.

The Jigawa State Governor, Alhaji Badaru Abubakar, in a statement by his media aide, (Print Media) Ahmed Danyaro, on Sunday appealed to aggrieved members of the APC to sheathe their swords, so that the party could emerge victorious in 2023.

REC advises aspirants

But INEC resident electoral commissioner, who spoke to The PUNCH on condition of anonymity, told aggrieved aspirants to seek redress in court if they felt their names had been wrongly omitted.

The REC stated, “There is no institution that has the power to subsitute a political party. In terms of selecting their candidates, it is not an INEC issue; the only thing is that political parties have to follow this law and that is why INEC has to be there to monitor and confirm that primaries held and people contested. But in the end, the authority to submit list of candidates is the parties’, not INEC.”

Asked what happens in a situation where INEC would submit a name of a candidate whose primary the commission had not supervised, he said, “This is not an issue because those who feel aggrieved will go to court and the court is the final authority to determined the validity of candidate.”

Meanwhile, The PUNCH on Sunday got a copy of the list of the APC candidates for Akwa Ibom.

The state has three senatorial districts and ten House of Representatives constituency slots.

The documents have the following Akwa Ibom North-East Senatorial District (Ukpong Emayak Nkangha); Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District (No candidate’s name was published) and Akwa Ibom South Senatorial District (Udo Inyang Martyns Denis).

A governorship aspirant of the APC in the last election primaries, Bernard Mikko has filed a suit at a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt against, the party’s governorship candidate, Tonye Cole and the APC over alleged non- compliance with electoral act.

Mikko is seeking the leave of the court, order restraining Cole from parading himself as the governorship candidate of APC.

He is also seeking Cole’s disqualification for alleged questionable character as contained in a white paper report of the Rivers State commission of inquiry.


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