PDP Rerun Congresses Are Outside The Law - INEC; Not True - PDP

Source: THEWILL. - thewillnigeria.com
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SAN FRANCISCO, Jan 24, (THEWILL) – The Leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have been told to shelve plans to conduct fresh primaries as scheduled in some states of the federation.

But the ruling party has said it would go ahead with its planned rerun congresses.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in a letter signed by its Secretary, Alhaji Abdullahi Kaugama to the Chairman of the PDP said the party would be in infringement of electoral laws if it goes ahead to conduct the fresh primaries in states it had announced over the weekend.

Recall that the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Professor Ahmed Rufai Alkali, after an emergency meeting of the NWC on Saturday on several petitions following the party’s primaries resolved to conduct re-run Governorship primaries for Kogi and Kano States. It also ordered a rerun of senatorial primaries for Delta Central, Oyo Central, Sokoto East, Bauchi North, Taraba Central, Adamawa South, Adamawa North, Kogi Central, Kogi East and Kogi West.

But the decision of the national headquarters was welcomed with protests from the Kogi State PDP and the supporters of the winner of the Kano PDP Governorship primary, Alhaji Rabiu Kwakanso.

INEC however insists that it had scheduled party primaries for between November 26, 2010 and January 15, 2011, warning that the timeline had since lapsed.

Confirming the existence of the letter to the ruling PDP, Mr. Emmanuel Umenger, INEC's Director of Public Affairs told reporters that the commission has formally stated its position to the party on the issue.

“We have written a letter to the party and we have drawn their attention to the fact that the time for primary elections had since lapsed. It is important to draw their attention to the (INEC) timetable and schedule of activities for the 2011 elections. These were issued by INEC pursuant to the powers vested in it by the provisions of Section 153 of the Electoral Act 2010, as amended.

“If the reports (that the PDP is conducting new congresses) are true, we are reminding them that the time for the conduct of such elections has since elapsed on January 15, 2011 and it has not been extended by the commission,” the top official said.

INEC said political parties have till January 30, 2011, to submit names of candidates to participate in the April general elections.

THEWILL gathered from a senior PDP official that the party had shelved plans to conduct a fresh Governorship primary in Kogi State. The source was not specific about that of Kano State.

Corroborating Umerger’s position, INEC’s spokesman, Mr. Kayode Idowu told journalists in Abuja that, “the commission has not altered its time table and therefore the deadline for all political parties to conduct its primary election still remains January 15 2011.”

PDP Legal Officer Responds To INEC’s Position

The National Legal Adviser to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Chief Olusola Oke has however said, ‘INEC has a misconception of the law’ and lacks the powers to interpret the law.

Chief Oke explained that the party understands the guidelines for the conduct of congresses as released by INEC but added that what the NWC ordered was not fresh congresses but a rerun. He said the party would go ahead with the scheduled reruns and would resolve whatever differences with the electoral commission.

“We think that INEC has a misconception of the law. What we are doing is a rerun of the primary election, which is as a result of the outcome of the primary election conducted. It is still part of the law that when a primary election is conducted and there are irregularities, then a rerun must follow to correct the perceived irregularities.

“It is not a fresh primary election,” he added.