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PDP, INEC AT WAR OVER CANDIDATES

By NBF News
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•Jega
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has written the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), warning it to desist from further changes of its candidates without recourse to its national secretariat.

The party, which argued that the INEC did not have power to change candidates' names on the list submitted to it by political parties described its action as reckless and capable of jeopardising the electoral process if care was not taken.

PDP is the second party after the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) to take exception to the incessant changes of names of candidates on its list and substituting them with those that did not emanate from the Party.

In a letter to the commission signed by the PDP National Legal Adviser, Olusola Oke, and addressed to the INEC Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, the PDP frowned at the decision of the Commission to bypass its national secretariat and be collecting names of candidates from state branches.

Citing Anambra State where the INEC jettisoned the names of candidates it submitted to accept other names that did not emanate from the party's national office, the PDP said the commission had no right to accept names of candidates from any other source other than its national office.

Consequently, the PDP, in the letter dated February 14, insisted that its list of candidates in the Anambra State National Assembly primaries as submitted by the national secretariat of the party remained. The list, as shown by an addendum attached to the letter, obtained by Daily Sun indicated that the PDP impressed it on the INEC to recognise the report of the Senator Waku-led panel, which returned Nicholas Ukachukwu, Mrs Okadigbo and Chidi Ofodile as the Senatorial candidate of the PDP for the Anambra South, Anambra North and Anambra Central respectively.

The party accused the INEC of flouting its own electoral law, bordering on the nomination and sponsorship of candidates by accepting names of candidates from state chapters of parties rather than the national office. 'Permit us to draw your attention to Article 17 (1) of the PDP constitution and paragraphs 50 (f), 51 and 52 of the electoral guidelines for primary elections on the authority of the PDP to conduct primary election and to sponsor candidates pursuant to section 221 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

'Your attention is further drawn to paragraph 27 (i), (vi) and (vii) of the electoral guidelines vesting in the national executive committee, through electoral panels constituted by it for that purpose, the power to organise, conduct, and ratify results of primary elections. Nowhere under the above instruments is a state executive committee empowered to conduct primary elections let alone forwarding the outcome of such illegitimate exercise to your Commission,' the letter read.

On these bases, PDP claimed, 'it submitted to your commission, a list of candidates sponsored by our party for the 2011 general elections. The list was duly signed by the National Chairman and National Secretary in accordance with section 31 (1) of the Electoral Act and paragraph 51 and 52 of the electoral guidelines for primary elections.'

It drew the attention of the INEC to the latest order, issued by Justice P.F Olayiwola of the Federal High Court, Awka, which 'directs and compels your Commission to comply with the earlier order granted by the same court on January 13, 2011. Suffice it to advise that the new practice of circumventing the national secretariat of political parties to deal directly with the state chapters is a recipe for maximum indiscipline and is bound to hurt the entire system.'