The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has denied disqualifying Kogi governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Barr. Natasha Akpoti.
National Commissioner and Chairman, Voter Education Committee, Barr. Festus Okoye, made this known in Lokoja on Wednesday at a workshop for journalists on the 2019 Kogi governorship election.
He said that by law, the SDP was deemed not to have submitted a candidate’s name for the November 16 Kogi governorship election, since at the close of nomination the party’s deputy governorship candidate was not validly nominated.
Okoye explained that the SDP deputy governorship candidate in a sworn affidavit contained in his form CF001, which he deposed to on 6th September 2019, indicated that he was born on 5th October 1985, while his attached state of origin form showed he was born on the 5th of October, 1987.
“She (Natasha) submitted her nomination without valid submission of deputy, and therefore did not submit any valid submission,” he explained.
He expressed surprise why it was only in the case of Kogi State that the issue was being overflogged, saying that that between Kogi and Bayelsa states, three out of four SDP candidates were disqualified for similar reasons.
He added: “You have not heard them talk about Bayelsa, only here (Kogi). How then do you speak of conspiracy?”
He said that following the invalid nomination of the SDP deputy governorship candidate, on grounds of age, and by virtue of his status, which the Constitution says must be deemed to be same with that of the governorship candidate that nominated him as running mate, the party was deemed to have submitted nothing, as at the close of nomination, and ad such “could not build something on nothing,” through their planned substitution.
He pointed out that eight political parties submitted invalid nominations for the Kogi State governorship election, while 18 others withdrew their nomination, adding that 23 political parties will participate in the November 16 governorship poll in the state.
He said that 6,139 Ad-hoc staff will be deployed for the Kogi governorship election, and that the exercise will hold in the 21 LGAs of the state, in 2,548 polling units and 3,508 voting units.
The national commissioner tasked journalists to shun fake news and work within the rules of the profession to ensure successful conduct of the November 16 governorship elections in the state.
He noted that hate speech and fake news are becoming very divisive forces in the society, adding that journalists should do all the necessary checks in order not to incite violence during elections.