The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Tuesday said it never recognised Senate President Ahmad Lawan, and former Akwa Ibom State governor, Godswill Akpabio as APC senatorial candidates.
The commission was reacting to a news report indicating that it has succumbed to pressure from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) by backdating documents to accommodate the two politicians.
Speaking to journalists on Tuesday, the National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee of INEC, Festus Okoye, said the attention of the commission was drawn to an online report that it doctored, backdated and certified documents to accommodate Lawan and Akpabio.
Mr Bashir Machina won the APC ticket for Yobe North Senatorial District, while Udom Ekpoudom won the party’s primary election in Akwa Ibom North-West in two primaries monitored by INEC officials.
Mr Okoye said, “Nothing can be further from the truth. As evidence of the alleged role played by the commission. A certified true copy of Form 9C uploaded by their political party and received by the Commission on 17th June 2022 when the nomination portal closed was presented,” he said.
He said for clarity, the Form EC9 (submission of names of candidates by political parties) is the form uploaded by parties on the INEC nomination portal, and is clearly indicated on the title of the Form which was received on 17th June 2022 when the portal closed.
The INEC official said publication of the personal particulars of nominated candidates was done a week later and that the forms of the two personalities (Lawan and Akpabio) in question were not published by the commission.
Mr Okoye said, “The decision of the commission triggered legal action which are still ongoing. It therefore defies logic and common sense to go around and submit doctored documents purportedly recognising the duo as candidates when the matter is clearly sub-judice.
“As part of the ongoing case in Court, a law firm requested the commission for a Certified True Copy (CTC) of the Form EC9 submitted by the All Progressives Congress (APC) as its candidate for Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District which we are duty bound to oblige them under the law.
“The form was certified on 15th July 2022. If minimum care had been exercised by the promoters of the story, they would have seen the two stamps of the commission bearing different dates on the form. It is this form that is now misconstrued as INEC’s endorsement.
“For the record, the commission has not recognised any of the two personalities as a senatorial candidate. We call for responsible reportage as against the unwarranted attack on the commission and its officials over a matter that can be easily fact checked.”
Mr Machina who was the sole candidate in the senatorial primary secured 289 votes and was declared as the party’s candidate.
However, after losing the bid to secure the party’s presidential ticket, Lawan aided by the party’s leadership, moved to return to the Senate.
But Machina, who confirmed that he has been approached by some persons to step down for Lawan, however vowed not to withdraw from the race.
APC National Chairman Abdullahi Adamu had warned that Machina risked severe sanctions if he refused to relinquish his ticket to Lawan.
In Akwa Ibom, Akpabio, who also contested and lost the APC presidential primaries, was declared the winner of another primary.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner in the State, Barrister, Mike Igini had said the May 27, 2022 primary, which produced a former Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Udum Ekpoudum (retd.), subsists, amid claims by the former governor that he emerged through a rerun election for the district.