THE Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has insisted that it will not recognise the primary election that produced Godswill Akpabio as the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for the Akwa Ibom North-West senatorial district.
The INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner in Akwa Ibom State, Mike Igini, spoke in an interview on Uyo-based Comfort FM on Tuesday.
Igini stressed that the Commission’s rejection of Akpabio as the party’s senatorial candidate for the district was final and could not be reversed.
Igini said the only way Akpabio could become the flagbearer of the party for the senatorial poll was through the voluntary withdrawal, or death, of the aspirant that had previously won the ticket.
He said even if APC was to conduct a rerun or fresh primary, Akpabio’s name cannot be on the ballot as he was not among the aspirants that participated in the first primary.
“The report of the Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District APC primary as submitted to INEC headquarters in Abuja is final. It is concluded. The train has left the station. The timeline is clear. All those who are in politics should go and study the 2022 Electoral Act very well.
“By virtue of Section 31 of the 2022 Electoral Act, the only way somebody can be replaced in any form is that we no longer have substitution by political party. What you have now is withdrawal by individual or nominee and or death.
“I hear people talk about substitution. If you look at Section 31 and Section 34 of the Electoral Act, those of you who are still carrying the old idea of the 2010, 2012 Electoral Act in your head, thinking you can substitute wilfully, it is no longer so.
“The law is not saying you should go and kill people so that you can have yourself on the ballot. No. The law is saying that those who have emerged at all levels up to the presidential level, you can decide that you are no longer interested. You can write an application signed by yourself, delivered to your party who will now deliver to INEC, but nobody can shave the political head of another person in his or her absence.
“Then number two is only in the case of death. Even at that, there will now be a fresh primary. This is the new law. So, what we are seeing going on is clearly a misnomer.
“The rerun can only be conducted between and among those who participated in the first Senatorial election of May 27, 2022 and the Senatorial primary for Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District was not cancelled, was not nullified, was not inconclusive. It was conclusive, it was concluded and the report was written and it is final because you cannot reopen that anymore,” Igini said.
The APC had conducted a primary election that produced Udom Udo Ekpoudom as the party’s candidate for the senatorial district but later held a different primary that saw Akpabio emerge as the winner.
The fresh primary Followed Akpabio’s failed presidential bid. He had resigned his appointment as the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs to contest the recent APC presidential primary.
He, however, withdrew at the last-minute and endorsed Bola Tinubu who eventually won the APC presidential ticket.