Kogi: PDP House of Reps Caucus accuses AGF of misleading INEC
The Peoples Democratic Party Caucus in the House of Representatives has slammed the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, over his comment on the inconclusive governorship election in Kogi State.
The caucus accused the AGF of misleading the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) with his suggestion on how the poll should be concluded.
The Reps at a media briefing on Thursday asked the AGF to withdraw the statement, which the group described as an embarrassment as it negated the spirit of the nation's constitution.
Malami had said the APC would have to substitute its candidate for the purpose of the supplementary election, citing Section 221 of the Constitution and Section 33 of the Electoral Act.
Leo Ogor, who doubles as the Caucus leader Minority Leader, said the comment was worrisome because the AGF lacked the capacity to interpret the law.
He said, “We believe that the comments of the AGF misled the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the nation in general
“First, the AGF referred to Section 221 of the 1999 constitution vis-a-vis Section 33 of the Electoral Act, where he directed INEC to go and continue with an election where somebody, with all due respect to the person died in the process.
“It is important to say clearly that the laws quoted by the AGF have no relationship with various issues that are on ground.
“Section 221 of the Constitution borders clearly on the modalities and methodologies, through which votes can be canvassed by political parties.
“Section 33 of the Electoral Act stipulates very clearly that 'wherein a candidate in an election or primary dies before the process of election, the option is there for the party to substitute that candidate for the election to be held within 14 days'”
Ogor accused the AGF of showing open bias in the subject by making pronouncements beyond his official powers.
Ogor said the Supreme Court should rather be approached for proper interpretation.
He said further, “The question here is that where you have an AGF carrying on as if he is attorney-general of a political party becomes very worrisome.
“I believe what the AGF should have done under normal circumstances, because he is an AGF and not an Attorney General of a political party, is to approach the Supreme Court to seek some level of interpretations and necessary steps to take.
“He acted so much in haste and from nowhere, INEC in less than four hours of the AGF's speech directed that a candidate should be substituted by APC to replace Prince Audu of blessed memory.
“I state with all emphasis that, that is almost an impossibility because the hours and time of substitution of primaries have come and gone.
“It is therefore our strong believe that the best option available to us as a people, and as democrats, with the interest of Nigerians at heart, is to seek clear interpretation and see how we can find our ways out of this logjam.
“It is important to note that nobody ever envisaged what happened, even though we all know death is inevitable.
“While we sympathise with the family and the people of Kogi, but unfortunately we have a major situation on our hands and for us to move forward, there is a strong need to caution those in authority, because what the AGF did in this situation was like acting as if has the powers to interpret our laws.
“He took over the powers of the competent courts of jurisdiction and ended up interpreting laws he has no control over.
“I believe this is clearly the usurpation of powers of the court.”
While urging PDP followers to be patient and avoid taking laws into their own hands, Ogor assured that the caucus would approach appropriate authorities to address the situation.
He said: “We are convinced beyond reasonable doubt that the concept of the ideology of whatever is described as Doctrine of Necessity is not here at this point in time.
“We refer to Section 181 that stipulates that when election is concluded and the person dies in the process, when the person has been declared, then his deputy is sworn in as the winner of the election.
“Section 33 of the Electoral Act also emphasized that if the candidate dies before the election, the election will not go on but INEC will take 14 days to carry out an election and the party will substitute the dead candidate.
“We are mindful of the fact that this process has started and already an action that was going on, the action has not in any way been concluded.
“So, if the action has not been concluded and the hours of substitution has passed, it is almost impossible for anyone to talk of substitution.
“The AGF statement was very embarrassing and as a caucus of the PDP, we ask him to withdraw that statement, we are not asking him to resign but he must withdraw it, it is very embarrassing, it negates the office he occupies and against the spirit of the constitution.”
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