The All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) are at each other’s jugular following directive that the ruling party might not field candidates for the governorship, national and state assemblies in Zamfara State in next year’s elections.
In a leaked correspondent to the ruling party, INEC said it arrived at the decision to exclude the APC from the 2019 general elections following inability of the state chapter of the party to conduct primary elections before the October 7 deadline.
In a letter titled: “Failure to conduct party primaries in Zamfara state within the stipulated time frame” signed by the acting Secretary, Okechukwu Ndeche, INEC insisted that the move to bar the party from fielding candidates for the governorship, national and state Assemblies elections, was consistent with the provisions of Section 87 and 31 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).
If INEC stick to its guns, Governor Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar will not contest the senatorial election in the state.
However, the APC in a reply, titled “Re: Failure to conduct party primaries in Zamfara State within the stipulated time-frame” insisted it conducted primary elections in the state, using the consensus option.
INEC’s letter read: “Please refer to the timetable and schedule of activities for the 2019 general elections released by the commission on January 9, 2018.
You would note from the timetable that the conduct of party primaries is scheduled to take place between August 18 and October 7, 2018.
“Kindly also refer to the last schedule communicated by your party to the Commission on the dates of party primaries nationwide, including Zamfara, via your letter Ref. APC/NHDQ/INEC/19/18/51 dated October 3, 2018.
“However, report received from our office in Zamfara State, shows that no primaries were conducted by your party in the state, notwithstanding that our officials were fully mobilised and deployed.
“Consequently, based on the provisions of Section 87 and 31 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), the Commission does not expect that your party will submit names of any candidates from Zamfara State.
“For clarity, our position, therefore, is that the All Progressives Congress (APC) will not be fielding candidates for the governorship, National Assembly and State Assembly elections in Zamfara State for the 2019 General elections.
“Please accept the assurance of the Commission’s highest regards,” the letter read.
In a swift reaction, APC said, it indeed, had elections and accused INEC of being hasty in its conclusion.
APC’s letter signed by the National chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, read: “We refer to your letter on the above subject matter (Ref:INEC/ SEC/654/ 1/330) dated October 9, 2018 and addressed to our National Chairman.
“The contents of your said letter seem to conclude that no primaries were conducted by the APC in Zamfara State. We wish to state emphatically that nothing can be farther from the actual situation in Zamfara State.
“Kindly find attached a comprehensive report from the Zamfara Electoral Committee of the All Progressives Congress and signed by all the members on the conduct of primary elections for the Zamfara State held between October, 2018.
“The summary of the report, as you will find, is that following the high level of friction, disagreements and threatened violence by various political camps before the primaries, all the aspirants met at City King Hotel, Gusau, to find a truce.
“After hours of intense horse-trading, a consensus was reached within the spirit and context of the Electoral Act and the constitution of our party on the basis of which a list was produced which was confirmed/affirmed by all delegates present. This was done in strict compliance with section 87 (6) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as Amended).
“Therefore, the claim in your letter under reference that “no primaries were conducted by your party in the state, notwithstanding that our officials were fully mobilized and deployed” could only be referring to their observation that actual voting did not take place, which is not the only mode prescribed for producing candidates in the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended). We, therefore, affirm that indeed primaries took place in Zamfara State.
“Please also refer to the lNEC’s Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2019 General Elections released by the Commission on January 9, 2018. By that timetable, all political parties are expected to submit a list of their candidates on or before October 18, 2018, after exhausting all internal procedures for Appeals arising out of the congresses.
“As a party, we are in the process of exhausting those internal procedures before forwarding the names of our candidates to you. We are perplexed that you did not wait for us to submit the names of our candidates in Zamfara State (considering that the time within which such submission should take place has not elapsed) before raising your observation in your letter under reference.
“This is more so when we received no correspondence from the Commission, at least to inquire from our party the true state of affairs in Zamfara State, in the spirit of fair hearing, before making haste to write your letter. We, however note that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) did not also hold primaries in Kano, but no such similar letter was written to the PDP in relation to Kano State.
“It is our contention, in the circumstance, that your letter is not only preemptive, but your position seem to negate the spirit of any fair hearing and is devoid of legal basis.
“Be informed, (emphasis by the party) that in the spirit of due compliance with the law, we affirm that we shall indeed be presenting candidates for Governor- ship, National Assembly and State Assembly Elections in Zamfara State for the 2019 general elections before the deadline for submission of such names which has been fixed by your Commission on the 18th of October, 2018 and in line with section 87 (6) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended).
“If you raise further observations after you receive our list of candidates, we shall be glad to clarify them. Please accept the assurances of our highest regards.”
APC seeks legal advice
Meanwhile, the APC is seeking legal advice on the matter.
The APC National Working Committee (NWC) had on October 5, dissolved the party executives at all levels in Zamfara, after contentious primaries said to have been conducted on Wednesday October 3 and October 4.
Spokesman of the APC, Yekini Nabena, had said by the decision, all party executives, at all levels in Zamfara were dissolved.
The dissolved party executives had claimed they conducted primaries on October 3, which picked a Yari anointed candidate, Alhaji Mukhtar Shehu Idris as winner of the governorship primary election, while won Zamfara West senatorial ticket, in a primary conducted 4 October.
The NWC invalidated the results and inaugurated a new committee, which attempted to conduct the governorship and legislative primaries in the state between Saturday October 6, to Sunday October 7.
The panel failed to conduct the elections because of threats by Yari to call out supporters in protest.