The African Democratic Congress (ADC) has accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of threatening and bullying it by registering the party four months to the July 16, Osun governorship election. Speaking at a press briefing in Abuja on Friday, March 25, the national chairman of the ADC, Raphael Nwosu said the electoral body erred by de-registering the party due to the age of the running mate to the 2022 Osun governorship candidate. INEC had earlier published a list of parties that failed to meet up with its guidelines conduct of primary elections and nomination of candidates ahead of the governorship election in Osun state. The commission had also in a statement signed by its national commissioner and chairman, information and voter education, Festus Okoye, said those who would make the list must be candidates who emerged from valid primaries.
According to the INEC commissioner, the nominations of ADC was not published for the party’s failure to comply with the commission’s guidelines on Political Party Operations (2018) or the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
Okoye also said that the commission had already communicated this position officially to the affected Political Parties. However, speaking on the issue, Nwosu said the party received a call from INEC on Wednesday, March 24, on its decision to de-register the ADC.
He said: “They called and when we asked why they followed it with small threats and black about the legal implication and all of that. “There is nothing illegal or fraudulent that the ADC has had done, if you want to figure out fraud, you know where to go to not ADC.” Noting that INEC had raised an issue with the party fielding a 33-year-old as the running mate to its Osun governorship candidate, Nwosu said ADC conducted its primary election and elected its candidate in line with the provisions of the law.
His words: “Regulatory authorities should not work to undermine the organisations or bodies that they regulate. What INEC should have done would be to notify the party on such an issue and not to out rightly de-register it.” “The Electoral Act makes it clear when a party can go for substitution and there is still time for that but INEC is trying to totally bully ADC out of this.”
Stating that the deputy governorship candidate did not emerge through an election process, INEC could have called for a substitution and not de-registering the party. He added: “The person in question did not go through any primary election as a running mate and can be substituted should the need arise. “We are backed by the constitution and the Electoral Act but INEC seems to be distracted because they are looking through a small prism.”
Further stressing the need for youth encouragement participation in Nigerian politics, Nwosu urged the electoral body to always ensure that the young people are welcomed at all times. He stated that the ADC is concerned about the involvement of youth in Nigerian politics despite the passing of the Not Too Young to Run Bill.