The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday said the Commission’s hands are ‘tied’ over the controversy trailing the non-submission of certificates by the All Progressive Congress (APC) Presidential hopeful, General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), to the Commission.
Recall that it was reported that Gen Buhari did not submit his certificates and credentials to INEC saying that the documents are with the military. He however explained the development in an affidavit dated November 24, 2014, which he deposed to before an Abuja High Court.
INEC, however, said there was no basis for objection to the affidavit presented by the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC),Gen Muhammadu Buhari over the circumstances surrounding his certificates.
The Commission, while stating that it does not have the mandate to screen or reject candidates, stressed that its role was simply to display the nominees of party’s for claims and objections, noting that only when there are objections will they revert to the parties to do the needful.
The chief press secretary to the INEC chairman, Kayode Idowu, who insisted that he would not comment on individual candidates said, “When parties file the nominees, the law requires that INEC should display those nominees for claims and objections. If objections are made to those claims the commission reverts to the parties because the statutory mandate is on the parties to nominate their candidates not for INEC to choose their candidates for them.
“INEC will have to revert to the political party and say there is a challenge with the credentials or the criteria that you have cited for any particular nominee and ask them to do the needful either to address the issue or verify to see whether or not it is truth. It is there job so they have to sort it out before they present their candidate. So, the Commission has no role in disqualifying candidates.
On whether candidates are required to submit credentials, he replied “all the credentials they are required to submit, they have to submit”.
Asked about the certificates the APC presidential candidate submitted for his previous election in 2011, Idowu said “I cannot respond to individual candidates; it is better to for people to abuse me on this one than for INEC to be drawn into partisan squabbles. INEC is a dispassionate level-headed, neutral umpire that is using the rules to do its job. So, what to do is drag INEC to join issues.
He however cited the guidelines for submission of candidates according section 87 of Electoral aAct, noting that there is a provision for sworn affidavit of personal particulars of Form CF01.
On whether INEC has the mandate to screen candidates he said “INEC does not screen candidates because INEC does not reject candidates. INEC sees what they have submitted displays it for claims and objections if there are it takes it up with the parties.”