Nigerians who have an issue with the credentials submitted by candidates contesting next year’s elections are free to challenge such claims in court, Independent National Electoral Commission Chairman Mahmood Yakubu said yesterday.
Yakubu said in Abuja that one of the reasons for displaying the names of the candidates and their claims was to enable those in disagreement with such claims contest them in the appropriate quarters.
The INEC chairman was updating reporters on Thursday’s publication of the details of all the 79 presidential candidates and 6351 National Assembly contestants in next year’s polls.
Yakubu also spoke on the decision of INEC on All Progressives Congress (APC) candidates in Zamfara State.
He said the courts have the final say on the matter.
Citing Section 31(3) of the Electoral Act as amended, the INEC chair said: “Each candidate nominated by a political party is required to provide details of his/her personal particulars by personally completing the Form CF001 and to swear an affidavit at the Federal High Court, a High Court of a state or the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
“Within seven (7) days from the close of submission of these documents, the commission is required to publish the form in the constituencies that candidates seek to represent as required by Section 31(3) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).
“This will give the general public the opportunity to view the affidavits of personal particulars of those who aspire to represent them.
“Any person with a reasonable ground to believe that any information on Form CF001 submitted by a candidate contains incorrect or false claims are at liberty to file an action against such candidate at the Federal High Court or the High Court of a state or the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
“While the current exercise is limited to candidates for Presidential and National Assembly elections, the personal particulars of those contesting in Governorship and State Assembly elections will be similarly published on 9th November 2018, one week after the close of submission of nominations by political parties.”
He asked the public to “seize this opportunity to view the personal details of the candidates that seek to represent them.”
He added: “The forms, as completed on oath by the candidates and submitted to the commission by their political parties, are photocopied and pasted in our state and local government offices nationwide.
“This is an opportunity for citizens to ascertain the personal details of the candidates to enable them to make informed decisions on election day or even initiate legal action against candidates who they believe have made false claims on their forms.”
He also announced that the national register of voters to be used for the polls would be on display at the various polling units across the country between 6th -12th November 2018.
This, according to him, is to afford voters check their names and raise necessary point out errors if any.
”Although the commission has dutifully cleaned up the register using the Automatic Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS), it is the right of citizens under the law to examine the register and exercise their civic duty by drawing the attention of the commission to the prevalence of any ineligible persons so that together we can further clean it up,” he said.
“For emphasis, eligibility to register and vote in Nigeria is open only to citizens who have attained the mandatory age of eighteen (18) years and resident in the places they registered. Such citizens must also not register more than once.
“The commission will also appreciate the assistance of citizens in identifying deceased persons on the register so that such names can be nulled from our record. It is also an opportunity to correct misspellings of personal details such as names, age, and gender.”
He stressed that the country’s voter registration is robust and also the largest database of citizens in the country, containing names, photographs, and biometric details.
On the Zamfara State APC saga, Yakubu insisted that INEC did not receive any submission from APC in the state.
He said since the matter is already in court, he would make no further comment on it.
He also said the commission was awaiting the Supreme Court ruling that voided the Rivers APC primaries.
He declared as a normal call for the sack of a National Commissioner, Hajia Amina Zakari, by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“It is normal in a democracy for parties to call for the resignation of public officials, but we all know under the constitution how national commissioners are appointed and how they leave office,” he said.
On the issue of INEC budget and procurement of materials for the 2019 elections, he said
procurement plans have been made for smart card readers, permanent voter cards.
He said INEC should take delivery of some of the items by the first week of December.
He said by-elections will be held on Saturday, 17th November 2028 in respect of Toro Federal Constituency in Bauchi State and Kanka/Kusada/Ingawa Federal Constituency in Katsina State as well as Ikom II State Constituency in Cross River State.
Yakubu further reassured Nigerians that preparations for the 2019 General Elections are proceeding in earnest and according to the detailed timetable and schedule of activities released by the commission.
“We shall continue to faithfully and consistently implement the timetable and all activities,” he declared.