EXCLUSIVE: INEC clears underage candidates to contest Senate, House of Reps elections

Former INEC Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has listed underage politicians as candidates for February 14 elections into the two arms of the National Assembly, the Senate and the House of Representatives.

According to the final list of candidates released by the Commission January 13, and posted on its websites, 22 contestants who are below the stipulated age of 35 years, from about 13 political parties, were cleared for the Senate poll.

Another 25 candidates below 30 years were cleared to contest the House of Representatives election.

The candidates submitted their forms to the electoral body through their parties last year, which means they will be a year older in 2015.

View list here.

Section 65 (1) of the 1999 Constitution states that “Subject to the provisions section 66 of the Constitution, a person shall be qualified to be elected as a member of (a) the Senate if he is a citizen of Nigeria and has attained the age of thirty-five years of age; and (b) the House of Representatives, if he is a citizen of Nigeria and has attained the age of thirty years.”

Section 65 (2) says a person shall be qualified for election under subsection 1 of this section if (a) he has been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent; and (b) he is a member of a political and is sponsored by the party.

According to the list, parties presenting underage candidates are the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Alliance for Democracy, AD, National Conscience Party, NCP, Advance Congress of Democrats, ACD, Mega Progressive Peoples Party, MPPP, New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP, Labour Party, LP, Peoples Party of Nigeria, PPN, African Democratic Congress, ADC, Progressives Peoples Party, PPA, United Peoples Party, UPP, Independent Democrats, ID, and Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, ACPN.

None of the two major parties, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and All Progressives Congress, APC, had an underage candidate in the list.

The AD is presenting the youngest of the lot. He is Fidelis Gaddama, a 25-year-old man who is vying for the Adamawa Central Senatorial District seat. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree.

Mohammed Gusau, 28, is contesting the Zamfara North Senatorial District election on ACD ticket.

Ugochukwu Ogbonnaya, who is running on the platform of United Progressives Party, UPP, to represent Enugu West, currently represented by the deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu of the PDP, Abdulrahman Shehu of the AD, who is contesting for the Zamfara West seat and Sulaiman Abdullahi running on ADC platform for the Kwara Central seat currently occupied by former Governor Bukola Saraki, are all 30 years.

Others are Dan Maliki Mustapha, 33, APGA, Zamfara West; Ibrahim Nasiru, 32, NCP, Zamfara North; Rhab Bulus Sabo, 31, MPPP, Taraba North; Zainab Aliyu, 33, NCP, Sokoto South; Muhammadu Abubakar, 32, NNPP, Sokoto North; Sanusi Abubakar, 34, LP, Sokoto North; Nasiru Habibu, 31, NCP, Sokoto East; and Ahmed Bukola Faslat, 34, ID, Kwara South.

Also on the lists are Anjorin John Temitayo, 33, PPN, Kwara Central; Bello Ajayi, 34, PPA, Kogi West; Janet Taiwo, 32, MPPP, FCT; Oluebube Frank Umuekoro, 32, UPP, Enugu North; Urata Ugochukwu John, 31, ACPN, Ebonyi South; Lady Imarhiagbe Ukamaka, 34, ACPN, Ebonyi North; Offor Patience Amaka, 33, UPP, Delta North; Atata Hanna Odibo, 34, ACD, Delta Central; and Mohammed Abdulrahman Tabata, 34, PPA, Borno North.

The list of 950 senatorial candidates also showed that seven of them are over 70 years. The oldest is a former governor of Kwara State, Shaba Lafiagi, who is seeking re-election to represent the northern senatorial district of the state on the platform of the APC. He is 74.

The others are Kasimu Ibrahim PDM, Katsina, 72; Agboola Oladimeji, PPA, Osun Central, 70; Elon Mamuno, Kowa, Adamawa South, 72; Olawumi James, UDP, Osun West, 70; Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau State, PDP, Plateau North, 70 and a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Jerry Useni, PDP, Plateau South, 71.

The list also showed that no fewer than 150 of the aspiring senators, including a former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu and a senator seeking re-election, Hope Uzodinma, are holders of only secondary school certificate. These include West African School Certificate, General Certificate of Education and National Examination council, NECO or teachers grade two certificates.

Mr. Uzodinma is currently the Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation.

The youngest candidates for the House of Representatives, according to the list, are Onwumere Leticia Amechi and Saifullahi Bello Wadata. They are both 22 and are contesting for the seats of Orumba North/South Federal Constituency of Anambra State on the platform of Accord Party and Yabo/Shagari Federal Constituency of Sokoto State on APGA ticket, respectively.

Twenty-three year old Abdullahi Kabiru wants to represent Illella/Gwadabawa Constituency of Sokoto State on the platform of APGA.

Orizu Milchan (Ogbaru, Anambra State), Nsikak Celestine (Etinan/Ubium, Akwa Ibom) and Mohammed Abubakar Umar (Dala, Kano), all 24 years, are running on the ticket of Accord, NCP and AD, respectively.

While only one of the candidates, Shuaibu Haruna Shuaibu of Sokoto State, is 25, two others are 26 years, 10 are 27 years and three others 28. The only 29 years old is Akinyoade Adedapo Oladimeji. He wants to represent Abeokuta South Constituency of Ogun State.

Interestingly, many of them are holders of Secondary School Certificate, SSCE.

In an apparent mistake, the Commission listed Agbade Abdulrahman, a Diploma holder, who wants to represent Ifo/Ewekoro Constituency of Ogun State on the ticker of ACPN, as a four year old man.

The oldest candidate for the House of Representatives is 79 year old Samuel Adeniyi Ayesa, a lawyer. He is vying for Akoko North Constituency seat of Ondo State seat on the platform of Social Democratic Party, SDP.

He is followed closely by Julius Adenle Fakunle, who is 70. Mr. Fakunle, who holds a B Sc in Economics, is contesting for the seat of Kosofe Constituency of Lagos State on AD ticket.

When contacted on the clearance of the underage candidates, Kayode Idowu, the spokesperson to the INEC Chairman, Attahiru Jega, said he was not aware of the development.

INEC’s Director of Voter Education, Publicity, Gender and Civil Society Liaison, Oluwole Uzzi, also denied knowledge of the underage approvals.

Mr. Uzzi however told PREMIUM TIMES that part of the reason the lists were published was to allow anyone who has objections to any information provided by any candidate to do so in line with Section 31 of the Electoral Act. The law admonishes such concerns to be redressed in court.

Section 31 (5) of the Act states that, “Any person who has reasonable grounds to believe that any information given by a candidate in the affidavit or any document submitted by that candidate is false may file a suit at the federal high court, High Court of a state or FCT against such person seeking a declaration that the information contained in the affidavit is false.”

Section 31 (8) adds that “A political party which presents to the commission the name of a candidate who does not meet the qualifications stipulated in this section commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a maximum fine of N500,000.00.”

The National Chairman of NCP, Yunusa Tanko, also told this newspaper that the submission of candidates under the required ages by parties could not have been deliberate.

“If it is true, it was not deliberate. You know parties like ours that do not have that widespread can make such mistakes. Some of these parties, which will be happy to have candidates in these constituencies, can make such mistakes,” he added.

Mr. Tanko, who is the Chairman of Interparty Advisory Council, IPAC, the umbrella body of all political parties which serves as advisory body to INEC, assured that “we will take it up with INEC.”

The National Secretary of the ADC, Said Abdullahi, also claimed he was not aware.

He said he delegated the duty of clearing the list at the party secretariat before it was sent to INEC to junior official, but assured he would launch investigation into the matter.

Mr. Abdullahi requested this reporter to send him the names of the underage person cleared by the party to enable him conduct his investigation.

Also speaking in a telephone interview, the National Secretary of the Alliance for Democracy, AD, Rafiu salau, who is also the party’s presidential candidate in the February 14 election said “it must have been a mix up.”

Section 33 of the Electoral Act (2010) debars political parties from changing their candidates whose name had been submitted according to Section 31 of the same law, except in the case of death or withdrawal by the candidate.


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  • Don Messi

    Diversionary! That’s what I call this! Any detailed account of infractions by contestants vying for elective positions will be INCOMPLETE Without chronicling the embarrassing and glaring inconsistencies in the educational qualifications of the presidential candidate of the APC.
    The hypocrisy of some Nigerians seems to border on mental instability. For Buhari, these ostriches shout that his educational background is immaterial! Some say he has more than the equivalent of the required certificate by his military training. These pretenders are alwys quick to point at the way things are run in developed countries. Take America for example, if Buhari ws a candidate there, the only two questions that will nail him are;
    1. Do you have the minimum educational requirement for the position??
    If YES (by virtue of his military trainings and courses), the next question will be;


    These will be the issues in any sane country..but sadly here, the so called opposition ‘anti-corruption crusaders’ only see corruption when it has to do with PDP. Any within their ranks is a no go area.

  • David Adeniran

    “According to the final list of candidates released by the Commission January 13, and posted on its websites, 22 contestants who are below the stipulated age of 35 years, from about 13 political parties, were cleared for the Senate poll. Another 25 candidates below 30 years were cleared to contest the House of Representatives election.”
    Was INEC sleeping? This is serious, a deliberate violation of the Constitution by INEC?

  • Ekwekwe

    These candidates are in the same boat as Bokohari. INEC is bound by the electoral law to accept parties’ list of candidates, whether with falsely sworn oath to have had school certificate (WASC as claimed by Bokohari) or not up to the qualifying age. The courts and election tribunals are there for a reason. Some are busy campaigning and “jogging” around the country but will end up in their villages or in prison after the election.

    • McAlfred Uta

      Correction: East, 6 months (J.T.U. Aguiyi Ironsi)


    No of yrs in Presidency from 1960 – 2015 by Regional Distribution
    North = 39 yrs (9 presidents = Balewa,Gowon, Muritala,Shagari,Buhari,Babangida,Abacha,Abdulsalam,YarAdua,)
    West = 11 yrs (2 Presidents = Obasanjo, Shonekan)
    East = 0 yrs (Nil)
    South = 4 yrs (1 President = Jonathan)

    • McAlfred Uta

      Correction, East 6 months (J.T.U. Aguiyi Ironsi)


    It is important to note that Buhari publicly pledged to his supporters that he will stop all attempts aimed at establishing a national ID card system which will include a national birth and death registration data base . The age of Nigerians cannot be credibly ascertained nor can our population.

    Buhari is a strong believer in Affidavits and false population figures which claims that Kano is more populated than Lagos.Buhari is trying to drag Nigeria back to the stone age just like him and his fellow northern oligarchs are dragging the north back to extinction .

    INEC may not be blamed because there is no way of knowing who a real Nigerian is unless he or she applies for a passport.The northern cabal of Buhari and co have used falsified population figures as a political weapon of southern subjugation for decades and the effects are so destructive !!

  • Kay Soyemi (Esq.)

    The age thing is archaic and INEC should sponsor an amendment to the bill to reflect this.

    In Nigeria, where we now have a Professor below that age threshold, should such a person be viewed as ineligible?

    Gowon was 29 when he became Head of State.


      Nigeria is a country of law……..your amendment proposal must not legalize electoral fraud,the APC must forget about their habit of entitlements and preferential treatment. Buhari in particular must provide his certificates like the rest !

      • Kay Soyemi (Esq.)

        Stop playing the forum dunce, Tawanda.

        The news item do not include or affect either PDP or APC.

        That part of the law is archaic and needs reviewing. Only retarded people would think the young cannot contribute positively to national development.

        But then, I can understand where you are coming from if the affected people are anything like you!


          Buhari’s certificate issue will never go away unless he does the needful .

          • tundemash

            yeah right ! U can rant till next election in 2019, you hurt no one !

      • kwango

        A country of law indeed with a president that appointed a man who has been to a psychiatric rehab home and facing stealing charges at EFCC as spokesman. What about lawless Creek militant oil thieves stealing the country blind?


          Stop the hypothetical questions,if you name and come up with facts of Psychiatric records,criminal convictions etc then we can discuss !!

          • kwango

            Ask your master Fani Kayode. Just as he asked Buhari to come clean on his health records, he should come clean of his court trial and publish his rehab records which is a serious case of unstable mind. We will pray for his quick recovery. I’ll personally lead a night vigil for his rehabilitation and reintegration into the society.


            Silly talk, FFK is one of the most educated and healthy Nigerians alive with a political pedigree as well. FFk has been cleared of any wrong doing by our courts of law.
            The man is doing a good job as we speak,Buhari must come clean and stop the deception.

          • kwango

            There is a difference between education and mental state. Yaba psychiatric home is full of certificate holders from renowned institutions. Ask the Ghana rehabilitation home if they cleared Fani or his certificate cleared him of drugs addiction. Then cross over to EFCC and inquire of his stealing and corruption case, you’ll agree only a mental case can be so hunted by his shadow.

        • Okey

          Indeed it is our country ! Such a country where a drug pedlar that forfeited $460,000 to the United States judiciary (with a plea of “non-justification” to avoid further prosecution) could be leader of a party of saints. Indeed, it is our country !

    • Ezuduemoih

      Kay good as your postulations are we must follow the extant laws for sanity. I think you are a lawyer

      • Kay Soyemi (Esq.)

        Ezuduemoih, I have not asked for INEC to break the law in this case.

        I have only looked at the way forward and articulated my reasons for that position.

        I am sure you would agree with me that my position is not redundant.

        • Okey

          That’s onomatopoeia !

          This medium (Premium Times) has pointed out that INEC is acting contrary the Constitution. Your post aptly strengthens INEC’s illegality. You have a duty to be plain, whether INEC was right or not.

          • Kay Soyemi (Esq.)

            You are right, @Okey.

            People do have a right to be stoopid.

            Where in my post didI postulate that INEC was right.

            Thinking is definitely not your forte, stick to being what you are., not clever!

          • Okey

            Kay, are you the “Esq” you claim, how you regale in swimming in the gutter ?

          • Kay Soyemi (Esq.)

            “I dey go my jeje way, someone come bring trouble…I no be gentleman like that…! – Late Abami Eda.

            You give me shaite, I give you shaite!

      • MrFesh+Ifebuche+Paschal

        Odikwa egwu.

        • Kay Soyemi (Esq.)

          Ifebuche, my online Chihuahua.

          Just because bones arebeing thrown around doesn’t mean you have been invited to feast.


    • Okey

      Esq., so you are advocating outright trampling upon the law without first amending it ?

      I have said here several times that the Nigeria lawyer does not “shine” except he secures uncountable number of adjournments that last even beyond life time and discovers the existence of the huge difference that lies between six and half-a-dozen.

      • tundemash

        do you struggle reading or you can’t comprehend. Those were Kay’s words bolded and underlined !

        INEC should sponsor an amendment to the bill to reflect this

        • Okey

          You are, certainly, the one that has facultative problems. Another post here did in fact justify my observation and position.

        • Kay Soyemi (Esq.)


          Many thanks, j’are.

          @Okey is presently recovering from his last bout with his favourite beverage.

          He is equally buoyed by the feelings of “greatness” induced by the copious consumption of Sapele Water and his lips are running ahead of his face; they are lose and spewing gibberish as usual.

      • John Osinbajo

        Nice one bro..

      • Kay Soyemi (Esq.)

        I do feel you have an exclusive right to what I thought was the preserve of Jonothing!

        Which bit of my position – reproduced below – tallies which this contortion you have regurgitated?

        “The age thing is archaic and INEC should sponsor an amendment to the bill to reflect this.”

        Amendment Bill, mumu!!

        • Okey

          Kay, you habitually relapse into the gutter, how wonderful you are making a habitat therein !

          I can make do with a “Jonothing” than one who built Something on Nothing. WAEC has its 1961 and 1962 records intact, if you are not ab initio Nothing, go to WAEC and obtain a statement about your “WASC” ‘qualification.’

          • Kay Soyemi (Esq.)

            @Okey, when you describe someone as “piggish”, were you waiting to be patted on the head?

            Or, were you using a word you are unfamiliar with?

            If you give, be prepared to receive in equal measure.

            I have my WASC results, I asked you about the Primary School leaving Cert.

          • Okey

            Me, use the word “piggish” ? That certainly cannot come from me. I may employ strong language but I cannot enter the gutter.

          • Kay Soyemi (Esq.)

            And the word “onomatopoeia” means nothing else, right?

            You do not ned to enter the gutter, that is where you reside.

          • Okey

            You see why you can never get out of your immersion in …

          • Kay Soyemi (Esq.)


          • Kay Soyemi (Esq.)

            By theway, I just remembered – Would you also not be asking for the birth certificates of GMB’s parents too?

          • Okey

            Even the Primary School Certificate, you equally do not have. Remember, you granted an interview earlier where you stated you left primary school in Daura in “class 4 or 5.” You joined the Army with “Letter of Recommendation” and “I am a Northerner” as your academic qualification ! You have neither.

    • MrFesh+Ifebuche+Paschal

      And that was 1960what?
      This 2015 Mr expired. Move forward not backward.
      Meanwhile tell your oga to buy WAEC form shaperly as army has finally cleared the air.
      Ndi Uchu.

      • Kay Soyemi (Esq.)

        Ifebuche my online dog.

        How are woof tonight?

        Woof, woof!

  • Adoki Achine

    I think what is happening is a consequence of our unwillingness to accept mistakes when we realize them, or our penchant to deliberately lie to ourselves for the purpose of self-justification. In 2007, Abubakar Atiku, who was contesting for the president, indicated in his INEC form that he had previously been indicted, but insisted on contesting the election all the same. The opposition and the media then backed him up and insisted that ‘only the courts’ can stop a candidate from contesting election. The Senate then went on to pass this ridiculous law, and here we are today.
    Now, just like in 2007, this would have all kinds of implications including huge financial losses in terms of election logistics to include candidates who clearly would not or should not be on the ballot in the first place. So, now, INEC has to delay printing of some materials until all legal issues would have taken place (usually creating logistics problems for INEC), or conduct elections to include candidates that would be invalidated and re-conducted or re-awarded eventually.
    If a candidate provides information himself that shows that he is not qualified for an election, what kind of system goes ahead to clear that candidate for the process???

  • Okey

    In the case Gen. Buhar INEC has come out to say it does not have the power to disallow anybody presented to it by a political party; that even if you bring a Ghanaian or Abubakar Shekau INEC will clear him without more. If we accept that, then INEC is absolutely right here.

  • Isi Agwo

    This Is Breaking News! The Army announced today, Tuesday in a press conference that what they have in Bokohari’s file is a letter from his school principal recommending him to be enlisted in the Army. Read it in Punch ng dot com: “We do not have Buhari’s credentials,” Army. No WASC as he claimed in form he submitted to INEC. Overtake don overtake overtake. And the last date to replace presidential candidate was December 30, 2014. Oturu gbeke oo!

    • John Osinbajo

      ‘oturu gbeke o’??
      What language is that???
      Babanriga don hook barbed-wire o!!

  • Jacob Babajide

    What type of system is INEC running?.Why will inec cleared somebody who is not qualified to be presented for an election? Why clearing somebody who is not a Nigerian, underage, not having the prerequisite qualification to contest an election going by the form filled and document submitted by the candidates?

  • warry

    Enlisting in the Army or contesting for presidential election without the required qualifications is not corruption?

    • Don Messi

      No..to them it is ‘JUST’ cheating!
      Don’t mind the clowns..Hypocrites!

  • Nwa Aba {Biafran}

    they are clearing tom and d*ck to avoid disqualifying buhari for submitting NEPA bill

    • Frank

      NEPA bill????
      I dey LaffooooO!



  • GrantUK

    Why has Premium Times and Sahara Reporters refused to report the breaking news after 2 hours of breaking. We don’t have Buhari’s credentials -Army

  • gvfjljkkj;l

    goodluck to both of them whoever wins wins

  • Lanre

    Mr. Effiong. You quoted the law but did not answer salient questions – Is it proper for anyone to be entrapped? Is the DSS an Investigating and Prosecuting agency? When is it allowed for the residence of any citizen to be broken into? When were the identified individuals invited for questioning and how long were they given to respond? What is the duty of the Attorney-General; the Solicitor-General; the Director of Public Prosecutions? This action is going to have severe consequences for the protection of rights. However, I am not surprised by this article. In 1984/85, Buhari had Chike Offodile to provide similar arguments for the actions of Rafindadi.

    • Ayeniromo

      Obviously you did not read this brilliant article…may be comprehension issue…

    • Manuel Tobby

      why exposing your poor comprehension ability so cheaply. please go back to school.

    • Ozilary

      Please Lanre go and read the article again

    • Olatunde Adeniran

      We all know miscarriage of justice is one of the topmost (if not the most important single) element of corruption in Nigeria. These guys are living above their means of income, did the DSS also planted (if we assume the cash we plated) such lifestyle on the arrested judges too? A yet to see anyone contradict that. The courts are there for anyone to check out your points of objection. What has this DSS done(like yiu call it breaking into another person’s house) that has not happened to a common man? Dasuki is in prison today and his is fighting in the law courts. Same with Saraki the senate president. Where were people like you and those judges then? My simple understanding of the law is all they need is a warrant to break into anybody they think he has unlawful possession of incriminating things. You want all these “generals” to be told or get permission from them before breaking into their friends homes…meanwhile you and me know that the evidences will disappear. Why do we like hiding under irrelevancies instead of praising Buhari for being bold in his attempt to stamp out corruption?

  • Irele ati ITELORUN

    Kudos, I always enjoy reading your fine points on legal issues.
    Straight to the points devoid of sentiments.

  • Manuel Tobby

    you are damn too intelligent

  • Nsikan Bababs

    Thorough. Thanks for removing sentiments from your writing.

  • Ozilary

    Nice piece

  • Taiwo

    I thought you should also have quoted the exact wording of the amendment carried out by Gen Abubakar regarding the 1986 Act.

  • Tammy Brown

    The submission remains the view and argument of Inibehe Effiong. In a court of law arguments are put down by two opposing parties for the judge to rule based on the law. It is grossly wrong to swallow hook line and sinker Inibehe Effiong submission. Lawyers are in the habit of putting down their arguments on the pages of newspapers and propounding them as valid only to be deflated in court at times. Nigerians should at least avail themselves to contrary legal opinion before jumping to conclusions.

  • Gary

    Editorial Board Chairman, please tell us why you or anyone needs to plead with a state governor, in a democracy, to respect the rule of law and constitutionally guaranteed rights to life, association and worship.

    When did Nasir El-Rufai become Ceasar at whose feet the Shiiites must prostrate for their human and civil rights to be acknowledged?

    What manner of precedent are you setting when a State Governor has to be begged to abide by the rule of law after agents of the state had engaged in the mindless slaughter of a religious sect by the hundreds for no other reason than bigotry? Is Kaduna now operating under a Sunni theocracy? If so, even in Saudi Arabia, the oppressed Shiites have not been proscribed so why are the Sunnis of Northern Nigeria aiming to be more Catholic than the Pope in this instance?

    • Efoe Livingstone

      The constitutional right of every Nigerian should be protected by the government and government agencies of Nigeria

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