INEC clears Atiku, Tinubu, Obi, 4,223 jostle for N’Assembly

The Independent National Electoral Commission on Tuesday released the final list of candidates for national elections, namely presidential, senatorial, and federal constituencies, in line with the 2023 elections timetable earlier released in the year.

INEC, which confirmed this in a statement by the National Commissioner in Charge of Voters’ Education, Festus Okoye, also posted the list on its website.

The list contained 36 presidential candidates and the running mates of 18 political parties. Also, a total of 4,223 candidates will battle for 469 legislative positions (senatorial and federal constituencies) at the federal level.

The commissioner, however, said the final list of candidates for state elections (governorship and state constituencies) would be published on October 4, 2022, as indicated in the timetable and schedule of activities for the 2023 general elections.

Okoye also noted that the commission also received litigation during the period of compiling the final list.

The statement partly read, “At its regular weekly meeting held today, Tuesday, September 20, 2022, the commission approved the final list of candidates for national elections (presidential, senatorial, and federal constituencies) pursuant to Section 32(1) of the Electoral Act 2022 and Item 8 of the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 General Election.’’

Speaking further in the statement, Okoye noted that the list that was published by the commission contained the names of individuals who were validly nominated by their parties.

He said, “The list published today contains the names of candidates validly nominated for national elections at the close of party primaries and the period earmarked for withdrawal and substitution of candidates. The final list of candidates for state elections (governorship and state constituencies) will be published on October 4, 2022, as already indicated on the timetable and schedule of activities for the 2023 general election.

“In summary, all 18 political parties have fielded candidates and their running mates for the presidential election. For legislative elections, 1,101 candidates are vying for 109 Senate seats and 3,122 candidates are vying for House of Representatives seats, making a total of 4,223 candidates contesting for 469 legislative positions. In terms of gender distribution, 3,875 candidates are male, made up of 35 for President and Vice President, 1,008 for the Senate, and 2,832 for the House of Representatives. Similarly, 381 females, comprising 1 for the Presidency, 92 for the Senate, and 288 for the House of Representatives, are contesting. There are also 11 people with disabilities in the race.’’

 Okoye further noted, “The list for specific constituencies is published in each state where they are located while the comprehensive nationwide list has been uploaded to the commission’s website.

A gender breakdown of the total number showed that the list is made up of three female candidates and 27 male candidates.

The females include Accord Party’s Suoteigha George and Ewa Happiness for Bayelsa Central and Bayelsa East, respectively, and Mohammed Tombra of the Young Progressives Party for Bayelsa West.

Obaseki’s faction loses

Notably, INEC has recognised in the released list of candidates produced by the People’s Democratic Party faction in Edo State, led by the Vice Chairman, South-South, Chief Dan Orbih, from the party primaries held in May.

There had been confusion in Edo State as Governor Godwin Obaseki and Chief Dan Orbih’s factions held parallel primaries that produced candidates for different elective positions, which pitched the two factions in a supremacy battle. It also resulted in litigation and judgments from different courts.

Our correspondent’s visit to the INEC headquarters in Benin on Tuesday showed that the list of candidates displayed on the commission’s notice board had the names of candidates loyal to Orbih.

The INEC in the published list stated that its action was based on the order of the court.

In his reaction, PDP State Chairman, Dr Tony Aziegbemi, urged members of the Obaseki’s faction of the party to remain calm and await the final court decision on the matter.

Azeigbemi said, “I am sure you know that there are court cases pending. INEC is obeying the court order by publishing these names, but until the candidates exhaust all their cases in court, there cannot be a final opinion on this.”

Akpabio makes list

However, factions of the PDP in Edo State have continued to claim the authenticity of their faction’s candidates while they await the Supreme Court’s ruling on issues.

Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court 5, Abuja, had in an earlier judgement in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/808/2022 issued an order directing INEC to only accept and recognise the candidates that emerged from the Dan Orbih faction on May 18.

Similarly, in Ebonyi State, Governor Dave Umahi was earlier omitted from the list of candidates released earlier in June following the controversy that trailed his emergence as the candidate of the All-Progressives Congress for the election.

The governor had contested for the presidential primary of the party, which he lost to Bola Tinubu, while his younger brother, Austin Umahi, won the Ebonyi South senatorial primary of the party in May.

However, after the primaries, the younger Umahi stepped down for the governor, leading to a rerun primary, which the governor contested unopposed, but the commission refused to list his name as the candidate and instead chose to leave the position vacant.

This led to the governor suing INEC at the federal high court, seeking to compel the electoral body to accept his name as a candidate of the party.

But the runner-up to the first primary, Ann Agom-Eze joined the suit and urged the court to recognise her as the candidate of the party.

In his ruling, Justice Fatun Riman, in his ruling, however, ordered another primary, with Mrs Agom Eze and any other interested fresh candidates allowed to take part.

Agom-Eze, not satisfied with the ruling, appealed the judgment at the Court of Appeal in Enugu and filed for a stay of execution.Consequently, the APC in Ebonyi obtained an order from the federal high court to go ahead with the primary, which Umahi won even as the matter at the appeal court is still on

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