INEC may shift Rivers polls if APC wins in court — Official

APC logo used to illustrate the story.
APC logo used to illustrate the story.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has revealed what its next step would be if the All Progressive Congress (APC) win an appeal of the court judgement barring it from participating in the forthcoming elections in Rivers State.

INEC’s Resident Electoral Commissioner in Rivers, Obo Effanga, said the election will be shifted should the party secure a favourable judgement close to election.

“The national commissioner said that if the order comes too close to the election, it will be difficult to have ballot papers that have the logos of all the political parties that ought to take part in that election and so if that happens, INEC will have to rely on its powers under the law to shift the election to accommodate that.

“But let us not talk as if that is a certainty. The certainty now is that APC is not on the ballot. APC is not fielding candidates for the election, so if the election were to be conducted now, we won’t have APC on the ballot and if nothing changes before the election, that is what will happen,” he said while featuring on a program, Sunrise Daily, on Channels Television.

A federal high court in Port Harcourt on January 7 nullified both the direct and indirect primaries conducted by two factions of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State.

The court, presided over by Kolawole Omotosho, also restrained INEC from recognising any candidates of the APC for the 2019 general elections in the state.

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Two factions of the party had conducted parallel primaries that produced two sets of candidates.

While one faction, loyal to former governor, Rotimi Ameachi, produced Tonye Cole as its candidate, the other loyal to serving senator, Magnus Abe, produced him as its own.

In a statement last Friday, Mr Effanga said that the commission had delisted all candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from the upcoming general elections in Rivers State, barring them from contesting.

However, Rivers APC had said it would appeal the judgement fuelling speculations about the forthcoming election. Some Nigerians had wandered what INEC would do should the party secure a favourable judgement.

Mr Effanga cleared the air on this speculation.

“I think it is very clear to understand. If the court comes too close to the election at the time the ballot papers have already been printed, without the logo of the political party that the court now says should be part of the election, it follows that they cannot have the election without the logo of all the political parties that are entitled.

“Let us remind ourselves that printing on ballot paper is not like printing of examination papers in a secondary school exam which you can on the day of election just roll out the number of copies, 200 perhaps, and give to the students to use in the exam.

“Ballot papers are printed ahead of time and they are sent to the states. As you know, each ballot paper is customised to have only the political parties in that election on the ballot paper.

“As it stands now, if the ballot papers are produced now, they will be produced without the logo of the APC because as the law stands, they are not in the election,” he said.

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