The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Friday listed the conditions for political parties to substitute candidates whose names have been forwarded to the commission.
For the electoral umpire, the law does not give any political party the right to replace a validly nominated candidate as it is the prerogative of the individual to be substituted.
This comes amid reports that some political parties, including the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Labour Party, nominated their vice-presidential candidates as placeholders, pending the conclusion of talks for a substantive candidate to be picked.
While the former forwarded the name of Ibrahim Kabiru Masari. as its vice-presidential candidate, the latter had nominated Doyin Okupe for the same position.
Reacting to the development, INEC National Commissioner, Festus Okoye, said the electoral body would take a decision in accordance with the Electoral Act.
“As far as the law is concerned and as far as the commission is concerned, the commission makes it mandatory that the moment a presidential candidate emerges, such a presidential candidate must nominate an associate who shall run with him/her as a vice-presidential candidate,” he said on Friday during his appearance on Channels Television’s Politics Today. “And so, both are seen as Siamese twins; they move together, and they fall together.
“In the forms submitted by the various political parties, they submitted forms relating to their presidential candidates and they also submitted forms relating to their vice-presidential presidential candidates, and that is in compliance with the provisions of the constitution and in compliance with the provisions of the law.”
Okoye explained further, “There is a provision in the Electoral Act for withdrawal of candidates validly nominated and the law provides that a political party cannot substitute a candidate that has been validly nominated except in two instances; if the nominated candidate dies or if the nominated candidate withdraws from the race.
“And in terms of withdrawal, the nominated candidate shall – in his own writing – write a letter to the political party that nominated him, indicating that he has withdrawn from the race and that must also be accompanied by an affidavit duly sworn to by the said candidate.
“Then the political party that nominated the candidate will now forward same to the Independent National Electoral Commission saying that our presidential candidate has withdrawn, or our vice-presidential candidate has withdrawn, and these are the documents of withdrawal and this is the person we are using to replace.
“But as of today, the political parties nominated their presidential candidates and nominated their vice-presidential candidates, so the issue of withdrawal is at the absolute discretion of the duly nominated candidate and no one else.”
According to Okoye who is also INEC’s Chairman of Information and Voter Education Committee, the political parties submitted forms containing the names of their presidential and vice-presidential candidates, as well as their particulars and sworn affidavits.
He stressed that none of the political parties neither indicate that they were submitting the document or name of a candidate as a placeholder.
“All the political parties that submitted list and particulars of their candidates said they were submitting the list of their presidential candidates and vice-presidential candidates; the issue of submitting a name in lieu, or submitting a name as a placeholder did not even arise,” the INEC official stated.