Independent National Electoral Commission

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has disclosed that the All Progressives Congress, APC, will not be allowed to replace its candidate, Godswill Akpabio, who withdrew from the senatorial rerun in Essien Udim senatorial district area of Akwa Ibom state.

The re-run in the senatorial district was ordered by the Court of Appeal following a petition by Akpabio challenging the declaration of Senator Chris Ekpenyong of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, as the winner of the election.

INEC says the period for substitution of candidates by political parties had expired.

However, Akpabio, who is now the Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, asked APC to find a replacement and send the name to INEC for approval due to his current ministerial duties.

But INEC has said in an interview that the APC and all the parties and candidates that filed valid nominations and contested the senatorial election during last general poll will be on the ballot for the rerun election in Essien Udim senatorial rerun scheduled to take place on January 25, 2020.

Festus Okoye, the INEC national commissioner in charge of voter education and publicity, explained that the period for substitution of candidates by political parties had expired “In the timetable and schedule of activities for the 2019 general election, the Independent National Electoral Commission fixed November 17, 2019 as the last day for substitution and/or withdrawal of candidates by political parties in accordance with Section 35 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended), Okoye said.

“The date and period for the nomination and substitution of candidates has elapsed and no political party can withdraw or substitute its candidate or nominate or introduce a new candidate in the re-run election. He said noted that a new candidate cannot inherit the votes gotten from the validated votes in the other local governments and by so, cannot participate in the re-run election.”

The INEC official said the commission will not allow any other candidate other than the candidate that contested the election that was annulled by the court.