The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof Mahmud Yakubu has asked political parties to rigorously investigate their candidates before fielding them for elections.
The INEC chairman made the comment while speaking at the stakeholders’ validation conference on INEC’s Strategic Plan in Abuja yesterday.
His call is coming just few days after the court sacked a member of the House of Representatives from Ado, Okpokwu and Ogbadibo federal constituency, Chris Adabah Abah for certificate forgery.
Yakubu, who lamented that parties in some cases nominated ex-convicts and people with forged certificates as candidates for election, stated that the electoral umpire lacked the powers to prevent such candidates emerging from primaries to contest elections.
He said, “If a candidate that emerges from party primaries is changed, how can INEC intervene? We can only appeal to the political parties to respect their rules. The laws say that INEC has no power to reject names submitted by the headquarters of a party.
“In some cases, some of the candidates shouldn’t have been nominated. Some parties recommend ex-convicts for election, certificate forgery, only for the court to nullify that election and for INEC to conduct fresh election. The parties should do basic due diligence.”
Yakubu said that the commission would rather take its own decision and face the consequences of its actions.
The INEC boss, however, refuted the claims in some quarters that the commission followed the position of the Attorney General of the Federal and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, on the controversy that followed the death of Alhaji Abubakar Audu in the last governorship election in Kogi.
He said, “I have explained this over and over but I am going to say it again. About what happened in Kogi, it came with its own complications that challenged our electoral jurisprudence.
“There was the impression that our response came late and it came after the comment by the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, suggesting that there was an indication or inference that we took a cue from what he said. That wasn’t what transpired.
“The election was declared inconclusive and the APC candidate died on Sunday, the election was conducted on Saturday. We had a meeting on Monday, we looked at the laws, we sought for the advice of our legal service department before we issued our statement. But people thought we took a cue from the AGF. No, we didn’t.”