By Lateef Ibrahim
The candidate of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) for the November 16 governorship election in Kogi State, Yusuf Mamman Dantale, has accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of working with All Progressives Congress (APC) to truncate the election and to suffocate other political parties in favour of the ruling party.
Dantale, who made the accusation while addressing journalists yesterday in Abuja, said that there is a plan to disqualify some political parties using INEC.
In a swift reaction however, the INEC National Commissioner in charge of Voters Education and Publicity, Barrister Festus Okoye, dismissed the claim by Dantale, stressing that the commission would do everything possible to protect the Constitution of the country.
The APM governorship candidate, who is also the National Chairman of the party, claimed that thirteen political parties have not been allowed to key into the political process.
He further alleged that a top official of the Kogi State government was moving round with money to buy willing officials of some parties with a view to making them withdraw from the race.
According to Dantale, “There is a grand plan to rig Kogi governorship election in favour of APC, and that plan is strong. We can recall the primary election in APC; some strong contenders in APC were disqualified. Now there is a plan to disqualify some political parties, using INEC.
“I was approached to withdraw from the contest. For those who refused to withdraw, INEC will use legal technicalities to disqualify them. And as I am talking to you 13 political parties have not been allowed to key into the political process.
“It is in the law that after nomination, INEC will make provisions for withdrawal and replacement of candidates. In my own party, for instance, we were written to that our deputy governorship candidate was not duly nominated because of age, and this was happening within the period allowed for replacement.
“Today (yesterday) is the last day for the replacement. We went there on Friday with the repose but they did not attend to us. We brought the replacement on Friday but INEC want to technically disallow it. Today (yesterday) is the last day and the people who are supposed to attend to us said they are waiting for directive from INEC Chairman”, he said.
He alleged that INEC wanted to cause delay until the time for replacement elapsed.
He added “We have intelligence report that they are working with APC to disqualify some political parties. Even before now, there was threat to my life. I don’t know what they have taken that they want to cover. APC don’t want to have any viable opposition in Kogi State.
“I want the world to know that INEC is working with APC to truncate Kogi governorship election, and to suffocate other political parties in favour of APC. Money is being shared, we have intelligence report”, the governorship candidate said.
However, Okoye, while reacting to the claims by the APM governorship candidate, dismissed the insinuation that INEC was planning to truncate the election.
He explained that the commission will, instead, strive hard to protect the constitution.
Speaking on the issue of nomination of candidates, Okoye said, “If there was a valid nomination and one of the candidates nominated with his own hand’s writing, wrote a letter by him, addressed to the political party that nominated him of his or her withdrawal from the race, then the political party that nominated him can substitute him.
“Other than that, the only way any political party can carry out substitution is if the candidate nominated dies or becomes incapacitated. If a political party nominated a candidate that is invalid abinitio, there is nothing to substitute”, he explained.