The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Friday said it had rejected 14 invalid submitted nominations by political parties for the Nov. 16 governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa.
Mr Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, in a statement issued in Abuja, also disclosed that 19 political parties willingly withdrew their nominations for the elections.
Okoye said that out of the 14 rejected invalid nominations, eight were from Kogi, while six were rejected from Bayelsa.
He said that at the close of nomination, 23 political parties were cleared in Kogi with18 parties withdrawing from the race, while one party withdrew in Bayelsa leaving 45 political parties in the race.
“At the close of the time stipulated by sections 31, 33 and 35 of Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) for the submission of the names of nominated candidates, 49 nominations were received for Kogi.
“Out of these, 41 nominations were valid, while eight were invalid. Subsequently, 18 political parties withdrew from contesting the elections. Therefore, 23 political parties will contest the governorship election in Kogi.
“For Bayelsa State, a total of 52 nominations were received. Out of these, 46 were valid, while 6 were invalid.
“One political party has since withdrawn from the contest, leaving a total of 45 political parties to contest the governorship election in Bayelsa.’’
Okoye recalled that INEC monitored the primaries conducted for nomination of candidates for the two states and also made public its preliminary review of the list and personal particulars submitted by the parties at the close of nomination.
“After the review, we disclosed that some of the nominated candidates for governorship and deputy were below the minimum age prescribed by the constitution and that the Commission was considering further action.
“In a letter dated Sept. 13, the Commission notified the concerned political parties of the invalidity of their nominations.
“In Bayelsa State, six of the nominated Governorship and/or Deputy Governorship candidates were affected, while in Kogi State there were eight such nominees.
“Some of the affected parties have written the Commission admitting their error and requesting to submit new nominees to replace the under-aged ones.
“However, this was after the deadline for submission of nominations on September 9, 2019. As such, the Commission could not accept any fresh nominations.
“In like manner, since the parties did not submit valid nominations before the deadline; they cannot substitute the candidates on the grounds of death or voluntary withdrawal, in accordance with the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), which assumes the prior existence of valid nominations.’’
Okoye said that members of the public may recall that just before the 2019 general elections, INEC had cause to draw the attention of political parties to the same problem of nominating under-aged candidates.
“That communication was a notice to the parties that future violation of such a basic provision of the Constitution will be unacceptable and could lead to severe consequences.
“Accordingly, the Commission has informed the affected parties that their names and logos will not appear on the ballots for the Bayelsa and Kogi governorship elections due to the invalidity of their nominations.’’
He said that in compliance with section 34 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), the full names and addresses of all candidates standing nominated would be published in the relevant offices on Monday, Sept. 30.
He added that it would also be made available on the INEC website.