The Benue Youths Forum, BYF have raised alarn over plots to circumvent the 2022 Electoral Acts as amended by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC in order to smuggle in reports on Special Congresses which were neither conducted by the Benue APC or monitored by INEC
Kuanum said Section 84(4)(c) of the Electoral Act, 2022 makes it mandatory that when a political party elects to go for the option of DIRECT PRIMARY mode for electing its candidates, it must conduct SPECIAL CONGRESSES to ratify the winners of such primaries.
He said in the case of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Benue state, the certified true copies of the various INEC Monitoring Reports issued by INEC team of observers that monitored APC’s primaries for State and National Assembly in Benue State did not show the conduct of such Special Congresses congresses making the primaries incohate, unlawful, null and void.
Mr Kuanum asserted that “It is only the certified true copy of the Monitoring Report for the APC’s Governorship primaries that shows at paragraph 7 that a Special Congress held on the 9th of May, 2022 at the APC Secretariat, Makurdi to ratify the winner of its gubernatorial primaries. The implication is that even before the whistle is blown for commencement of electioneering, the APC in Benue has no PROPERLY NOMINATED candidates in the entire 32 State Assembly Constituencies, 11 Federal Constituencies and 3 Senatorial Constituencies of Benue State.
“Faced with this unsavory reality after the PDP pleaded and front loaded all these documents, the perennially disorganized APC has resorted to subterfuge in criminal cahoot with the Director of Elections and Parties Monitoring (EPM) in Abuja to give instructions to the INEC in Benue State as well as the various Electoral Officers (EO’s) in the Local Governments to doctor Monitoring Reports on Special Congresses of APC in Benue State.
“The fact that the INEC headquarters is not in custody of a single special congress report for APC’s State and National Assembly primaries over 2 months after the exercise held on 26th and 27th May, 2022 and long after various persons applied formally to INEC in Abuja shows that no such report(s) exists in the first place.
“To conspire to forge very vital INEC documents is not only a criminal offence under the Electoral Act but also under our regular criminal laws. The EPM Director who is from Nasarawa State must be reminded that he owes a fiduciary duty to the Nigerian State and not a political party to do just to all without fear or favour, affection or ill-will. Anything short of this is a breach of the code of conduct for the high office he occupies.
“The police high command has been petitioned to look into these criminal moves to circumvent extant laws and regulations.
“It is also worrisome that the APC who are the architect of their misfortune and impending non-inclusion on the ballot in the 2023 polls in Benue state are now blaming the state government and the PDP for their ordeal.
“The fundamental question to ask is whether the PDP and the Benue State government are responsible for the conduct of primaries in the APC? Did PDP and Benue State government tell the APC to conduct a charade and call it primaries? Are PDP and Benue state government the ones who told the aggrieved APC members to go to court over the shenanigans displayed by the one-man party in Benue?
“It is true that the PDP and its governorship candidate as well as candidates for other positions in Benue state have gone to court over the violation of the electoral act in selecting APC candidates for various positions. But this is in line with extant laws which grants a political party the right to approach the Court if INEC turns a blind eye to the flouting of relevant laws and regulations in the nomination process of a political party.
The Forum advised the APC in Benue state to concentrate on defending the sham that led to the emergence of their candidates in Benue state instead of channeling their self-inflicted grievances towards the PDP and the Benue state government.
“It is equally instructive for INEC to shun the advances being made by the failing APC to shortchange those who were robbed by the questionable process that was mid-wifed by some failed political undertakers who called themselves godfathers of APC in Benue state” he said
He also urge INEC to caution the Director, EPM to desist from the dangerous act of trying to misrepresent facts as to what really happened in the joke of a show that took place in Benue state in the guise of direct primaries for the governorship ticket and the shameful manner other candidates emerged.
“As the body overseeing the process that lead to the conduct of election in the country, it would be scary for the INEC to be neck-deep in the efforts of some individuals to subvert justice to satisfy the selfish interest of enemies of democracy.
“We expect the INEC to even ensure that the APC does not have its way through sneaking in of candidates, individuals who didn’t participate in the processes leading to the emergence of standard bearers.
“Allowing APC to smuggle in a list of people prepared in the bedroom of one person as those who emerged at validly conducted primaries would be tantamount to violation of the spirit and letters of the Electoral Act 2022.
“The APC which is a party known for failure, lack of internal democracy, poor handling of internal issues and penchant for disregard for the rule of law has indeed shot itself in the leg as it concerns Benue state and is now condemned to live with the outcome.
“We urged the Benue State government and the PDP in the state to ignore the distraction coming from the drowning party and concentrated on delivering dividends of Democracy to the people.
“Ours is not about partisan disposition, but we wish to advise all parties and interests to always toe the part of honour and do that which does not portends danger to the survival of democracy.
2023 shall be a year of referendum. Let all threats to a credible, free and fair election be nippped in the bud to avoid any outcome that shall hurt, rather than heal the country” he added.