The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said the All Progressives Congress (APC) can still participate in the December 5, 2020 by-election in Bayelsa West senatorial district if the Court of Appeal orders the restoration of its candidate on the ballot.
The Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa had on November 3, 2020, disqualified the APC candidate, Peremobowei Ebebi, from the contest over discrepancies in his academic qualifications and multiple dates of birth in his voter’s card.
- 2023 polls: Our actions will determine APC’s chances – Gov Buni
- 2023: ‘Umahi’s defection, beginning of electoral tsunami for APC‘
INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education, Festus Okoye, explained this on Monday in Yenagoa, when he accompanied the acting National Chairman of INEC, Air Vice Marshal Ahmed (rtd), on inspection of materials for the election to ascertain the commission’s readiness for the exercise.
Okoye said once the commission is served by court judgement, it’s bound to obey it.
He said: “By the provision of Section 285 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Federal High Court, the State High Court and High Court of FCT have been given the powers and jurisdiction to entertain pre-election matters and part of that process is that the moment the commission is served with a court order, it is bound to obey.
“If the Court of Appeal sets aside that particular judgement, the commission will also obey, but first is to look at the court order, see the statement of the court order and obey.
“If the court order says APC as a political party does not have a candidate in the election and the commission should remove the logo of APC from the ballot, we are going to comply with that; if the Court of Appeal says restore and we have the time to do that, we will restore, if it is at least three days to the election, we will definitely restore and the APC will be on the ballot.
“If such judgement comes after the election, it depends on the specific order which the court has made, but whatsoever the court says, we will obey,” he said.
The Campaign Director of Ebebi, Ofoni Williams, however, said INEC was in a haste to de-market the party and its candidate by excluding him from the forthcoming by-election.
He expressed optimism that the appeal court would overturn the judgment of the Federal High Court.