The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has declared that it would amount to contravening the Electoral Act if it disqualified Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello from participating in the November 16 ballot due to alleged double registration.
According to the electoral umpire, the Electoral Act does not provide for disqualification as a penalty for committing such an offence. Recall that the commission had, in 2017, accused Governor Bello of double voter registration and said he would have been prosecuted but for his immunity.
INEC had also dismissed two of its officials for alleged roles in the electoral scandal. But clarifying why Mr. Bello is allowed to contest the election, having been indicted, INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, during a quarterly consultative meeting with the media in Abuja, Wednesday stated: “Under the Electoral Act, double registration is not a condition to disqualify a candidate. In any case, the action we took on the part of the officials that were indicted were administrative based on the terms and conditions of service.
“The action we need to take on non-staff of the commission is to prosecute and we cannot prosecute someone with constitutional immunity. We can only prosecute based on the provision of the Electoral Act.”
Yakubu also dismissed the allegation by the Bayelsa State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate, Senator Douye Diri, that the commission was conniving with the All Progressives Congress (APC) to influence the list of Supervisory Presiding Officers (SPOs) deployed for the poll. He described the allegations as baseless and hearsay, adding that the PDP should come forward with evidence if it had any.
Meanwhile, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in charge of Bayelsa, Monday Tom, has declared that no amount of falsehood against his person and INEC would distract him and the commission from conducting a credible election in the state.The REC, who was addressing the media at the commission’s state headquarters in Yenagoa yesterday, said he remained focused on achieving the commission’s mandate and would not join issues with ‘persons who want to win election at all costs by running other persons down.”
He was reacting to accusation by the PDP Campaign Organisation in the state, that he was colluding with APC to rig the November 16 election in the state.The PDP had, in a statement, called on the INEC chairman to prevail on Tom not to give the commission a bad name.