The Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, in Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Mike Igini, has explained that the 2022 Electoral Act does not allow the substitution of nominees by political parties.

Igini, who made this known during an interview with Comfort Fm Radio station in Uyo, advised politicians desirous of contesting the 2023 general elections to meticulously study the provisions of the 2022 Electoral Act, as Amended.

He stressed that the report of the Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District APC primary, as submitted to INEC headquarters in Abuja, was final.

He said: “By virtue of Section 31 of the 2022 Electoral Act, we no longer have substitution by political party.

“What you have now is withdrawal by individual or nominee and or death. The law is not saying you should go and kill people so that you can have yourself on the ballot. No.

“The law is saying that those who have emerged at all levels up to the presidential level; you can decide that you are no longer interested.

“You can write an application signed by yourself, delivered to your party who will now deliver to INEC, but nobody can shave the political head of another person in his or her absence.

“The report of the Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District APC primary as submitted to INEC headquarters in Abuja is final. It is concluded. The train has left the station. The timeline is clear.

“All those who are in politics should go and study the 2022 Electoral Act very well. I hear people taking about substitution.

“If you look at Section 31 and Section 34 of the Electoral Act, those of you who are still carrying the old idea of the 2010, 2012 Electoral Act in your head, thinking you can substitute willfully, it is no longer so”.

Continuing, Igini explained that the process where former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, recently emerged as the APC Senatorial candidate for Akwa Ibom North-West was a misnomer.

He further explained that the new Electoral Law also provided that it is only in a case of death of a nominee, a fresh primary would be conducted, stressing, “So what we are seeing going on is clearly a misnormer.

“The rerun can only be conducted between and among those who participated in the first Senatorial election of May 27, 2022 and the Senatorial primary for Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District was not cancelled, was not nullified, was not inconclusive.

“It was conclusive, it was concluded and the report was written and it is final because you cannot reopen that anymore.

“Out of the three senatorial districts, we had election conducted in two — the North-West and North-East Senatorial districts — where retired DIG Udom Ekpoudom emerged as the winner of the Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District.

“We wrote our report. Interestingly, the Head of INEC’s Legal Team in Akwa Ibom State was the one who led the team for that of Akwa Ibom North-West and they wrote the report and the report had been concluded on May 27.

“As at the time INEC report was written, Godswill Akpabio was not an aspirant. We didn’t write a report because of Akpabio, as some people are just talking nonsense.”

Igini said the clarification became necessary as some mischief-makers were trying to bring INEC’s name to controversy and calling him names so as to demonize him for doing his job in line with the rule of law.

He noted that INEC does not conduct party primary, be it presidential, gubernatorial, Senatorial, House of Representatives etc.

“All we do is just one percent. That one percent can be decisive in the sense that we cannot see something to be white in the morning and then in the afternoon it is black.

“Such a day will never happen in our lifetime in the service of our country.

“On Thursday, June 9, 2022, we were in Abuja holding a meeting at INEC headquarters on how to deal with the current situation about voter registration. And the good news is that I have brought more machines to Akwa Ibom.

“By 7pm, I got information that the APC will send a letter that they want to do a rerun Senatorial election and that was shocking to the Commission.

“Abuja was surprised, we were surprised. First and foremost, a rerun has a technical meaning in election management.

“And in any rerun, it must be between those who were part of the first election. To now say that an individual will conduct a primary for himself, by himself, won by himself, we are ridiculing our democracy.

“We are showing to the world that we don’t have a system. We are showing that we are a permissive society, that indeed the rule of law means nothing in our country,” Igini lamented.

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