Posted by News Express | 12 January 2015 | 3,808 times
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has reacted to the claims of complicity levelled against it by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the controversy surrounding the educational qualifications of the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari. INEC restated that it has no powers to disqualify any candidate sent to it by the political parties and has advised PDP to challenge Buhari’s candidature in court.
The commission, which was responding to the allegations made by the PDP presidential campaign spokesman, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, said if the ruling party feels so strongly about the matter, “it knows what to do.”
Speaking on the issue on Sunday, INEC’s Director, Voter Education and Publicity, Mr. Wale Uzzi, and its Director, Legal Services, Mr. Ibrahim Bawa, stressed that the commission has no constitutional power to disqualify any candidate presented to it by the political parties.
According to Uzzi, “In line with Section 31 of the Electoral Act, the commission has no powers to disqualify any candidate whose name has been submitted to INEC.
“This is the power of the law and it is expected that a political party in the calibre of the PDP should know this aspect of the provision of the law.
“If the PDP feels strongly about this matter, it knows what to do. It should take him to court and that is the only option. If any political party is aggrieved and is serious about it, the only option available is the court.”
He said Buhari had complied with the provisions of the Constitution and Electoral Act because he had provided the commission with an affidavit to prove that he (Buhari) has the necessary qualifications to contest the presidential election.
Uzzi added: “It is not necessary to provide certificates but provide evidence that show that he is educated.”
Corroborating his colleague, Bawa said: “The law states that the candidate must be educated to a certain level and once you have sworn to an affidavit that you have the necessary educational qualifications, that serves it.
“It is the responsibility of the PDP to accept it or exercise the option of going to court. It is only the courts that can direct the commission otherwise.
“This is what the Electoral Act states in Section 31 of the amended act that INEC has no powers to disqualify any candidate presented by any political party. This is the position of the law.”
He further disclosed that some civil society organisations had already applied to INEC for a certified true copy of the academic qualifications presented by General Buhari and that INEC had obliged them the request.
•Excerpted from a THIS DAY report. Photo shows INEC Chairman, Attahiru Jega.
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