The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has insisted that it does not recognise Senate President, Ahmed Lawan and Godswill Akpabio as eligible senatorial candidates ahead of the 2023 general elections.
The commission stated this in a circular released on Tuesday by Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee.
Okoye denied that the electoral body had backdated Certified True Copies of reports of the All Progressives Congress (APC) primaries to accommodate Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, Godswill Akpabio and others as candidates.
The commission explained that a document with Akpabio’s name being circulated online is a copy of the form uploaded by political parties on the INEC nomination portal for submission of names of candidates.
The circular reads: “Not for the first time, our attention has been drawn to a story published by an online medium that the Commission has doctored, backdated and certified documents to accommodate the nominations emanating from Yobe North and Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial Districts in respect of Senators Ahmed Lawan and Godswill Akpabio. Nothing can be further from the truth.
“As evidence of the alleged role played by the Commission, a certified true copy of Form 9C uploaded by their political party and received by the Commission on 17th June 2022 when the nomination portal closed was presented.
“For clarity, the Form EC9 (submission of names of candidates by political parties) is the Form uploaded by parties on the INEC nomination portal. This is clearly indicated on the title of the Form which was received on 17th June 2022 when the portal closed.
“What follows is the publication of the personal particulars of nominated candidates which was done a week later. The Forms of the two personalities in question were not published by the Commission. The decision of the Commission triggered legal action which is still ongoing. It therefore defies logic and common sense to go around and submit doctored documents purportedly recognising the duo as candidates when the matter is clearly sub-judice.
“As part of the ongoing case in Court, a law firm requested the Commission for a Certified True Copy (CTC) of the Form EC9 submitted by the All Progressives Congress (APC) as its candidate for Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District which we are duty bound to oblige them under the law. The Form was certified on 15th July 2022. If minimum care had been exercised by the promoters of the story, they would have seen the two stamps of the Commission bearing different dates on the Form. It is this Form that is now misconstrued as INEC’s endorsement.
“For the record, the Commission has not recognised any of the two personalities as a Senatorial candidate.
“We call for responsible reportage as against the unwarranted attack on the Commission and its officials over a matter that can be easily fact-checked.”