NCP cries foul over guidelines, rejection of 77 party candidates
Accuses LASIEC of conspiracy to manipulate election process
Barely 10 days to the conduct of July 22 council polls in Lagos, anxious stakeholders from different political parties, yesterday, stormed the Secretariat of Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission, LASIEC, to have glimpse of validated and invalidated candidates as released by the commission.
Meantime, National Conscience Party, NCP, has commenced legal action against Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission, LASIEC, over legality of requirements in the guidelines for registration of candidates and rejection of 77 party names submitted to it for validation.
NCP described the developments has “undemocratic and dangerous” for the forthcoming July 22, 2017Local Government elections in Lagos.
The poll is to elect chairmen and councillors in the 20 Local Government Areas and 37 Local Council Development Areas, LCDA, in the state.
When Vanguard visited the office yesterday, amid tight security, the stakeholders, mainly politicians in their hundred were seen at the commission’s headquarters struggling to have a look at the list whether the names of their candidates were included.
On the list were 1,300 chairmanship and councillorship candidates of various parties on the list.
Out of the total on the list, no fewer than 20 candidates of different parties had their candidacy invalidated for not meeting eligibility criteria.
Some others have the validation of their candidacy pending as they were asked to present either evidence of tax clearance, their Curriculum Vitae or both for clearance.
Earlier, Chairman of LASIEC, Justice Ayotunde Phillips (Rted) had explained that parties could still present substitutes for the invalidated, who would make the final list after meeting eligibility criteria.
The names of all the candidates for Odi-Olowo LCDA were apparently missing on the list.
A Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja, had last Friday, held that no primaries were held by All Progressives Congress, APC, on the 27th May 2017, in respect of the Odi-Olowo LCDA.
Therefore, Justice Doris Okuwobi, during the proceeding ruled that there should be fresh primary conducted in the LCDA.
In a case brought by Hakeem Abolaji Saka against the APC and Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission, LASIEC, prayed the court, among other things that no primaries were held on the 27th May, 2017, in respect of the Odi-Olowo APC LCDA Chairmanship office for the forthcoming LG elections slated for July 22, 2017.
“Any primaries held were contrary to Article 20(i),(ii),(iii )&(iv) of the Party’s Constitution, The State Chapter of the party did not hold primaries as there were no delegates.
“Names of imposed candidates were drawn up as returned with a view to sending to LASIEC 2nd Defendant as candidates of the party. Any list of returned APC Candidates is null and void as they did not emerge from democratic primaries as provided for by the party’s Constitution.
Also, all the candidates of NCP were missing on the list.
Some of the contentious requirements for the guidelines include; N50, 000 fee for chairmanship form, resignation from jobs six months before the elections, evidence of three years tax clearance and Lagos State Residents Identity Card, among others.
National General Secretary of the party, comrade Ayodele Akele made the remarks, yesterday, at a media briefing in Ikeja on the preparation of the party for the July 22 council polls.
Akele alleged that there was grand conspiracy by All Progressives Congress, APC, LASIEC and the Judiciary to manipulate the electoral process in favour of the ruling party in the state.
According to him, “The hard facts on the ground confirm the reality. As we speak, 77 NCP candidates for the council polls have been wickedly denied forms and registration by Philips led LASIEC using illegal guidelines unprecedented, callously imposed on the forthcoming elections.
“The NCP had organized its primaries peacefully since May 20, 2017 in the presence of three LASIEC representatives and the list had been submitted formally to LASIEC.”
The party therefore, wondered why same LASIEC has refused to give electoral forms when the leadership requested for them. “We have been ostracized along with the millions of people that never met the conditions imposed by LASIEC. Unlike LASIEC, Independent National Election Commission, INEC forms are available online free of charge for party candidates to down load fill and submit with supporting documents. Why must INEC forms be free and LASIEC forms are not. Why must LASIEC case be different, where is the precedent. ?”
He maintained it was completely illegal and undemocratic for LASIEC to charge a single kobo for any form for the election as there are Supreme Court rulings against the guidelines since 2003 in a lawsuit filed by the founder of NCP late Chief Gani Fawehinmi.
NCP, also expressed worry over the fact that the party had earlier filed a lawsuit against LASIEC in Lagos High Court since May 12, 2017, “over the undemocratic guidelines with an Affidavit of Urgency attached and as we speak, two months after, the lawsuit has not been heard by any judge in Lagos State High Court. This is a big scandal.
“This development clearly raises a lot of questions about whether judiciary is actually the last hope of the common man. Now, they are saying the court is going on vacation by July 17, 2017, few days to the July 22, 2017 council polls.”
He stressed that the court which supposed to salvage the cause has refused to hear the matter.
“We are ready to take the matter to the Supreme Court. This is pure attempt to exclude credible candidates from contesting while they are busy using public funds to feather their own nests and campaign.”
Akele vowed that NCP would continue to stand against a situation where LASIEC imposes so-called guidelines that crudely negate basic democratic principles that are totally different from the established INEC standard and Constitution of Nigeria.
When contacted for comment on the list and other issues arising from it the commission’s Director of Publicity, Mr Oladapo Olatunde, said a statement would be issued soon to address all issues.
He said the commission was an impartial umpire in the process and would treat all parties equally.
However, LASIEC had fixed the council poll for July 22 and run-off for July 29.