The Independent National Electoral Commission and the All Progressives Congress are set for a showdown over the submission of the list of candidates for elections in Zamfara State, this paper has learnt.
The deadline for submission of the names of the candidates for presidential and National Assembly election is Thursday (today) and the APC is expected to submit its own list today.
INEC had last week written a letter to the National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, explaining that the party would not be allowed to field any candidate except for the presidential election because the October 7 deadline for the conduct of primaries had lapsed.
However, a Zamfara State High Court had on Tuesday issued an interim order restraining the APC and INEC from disqualifying the party’s candidates from the state for the 2019 elections.
The suit was filed by three executive members of the APC in the state – the Chairman of the party in Gusau Local Government Area, Babangida Abdullahi; his counterpart in Tsafe Local Government Area, Kabiru Chafe, and Sanusi Dan-Alhaji.
Justice Mukhtar issued an order of interim injunction ordering the APC, the party’s North-West zonal chairman and INEC to “maintain the status quo as at the time the plaintiffs filed the suit on October 8, 2018” which was not objected by their counsel.
The judge, thereafter, adjourned the matter till October 23 for hearing to enable the defendants to file their responses to the motion on notice before the court.
Speaking on Wednesday, however, the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, said the court did not ask INEC to accept the list of candidates from Zamfara State.
He said the court asked all parties to “maintain the status quo” which he said implied that INEC’s decision stood.
Oyekanmi said, “We have seen the court order and it doesn’t change anything. The court said we should maintain the status quo and what is the status quo? The status quo is that as far as INEC is concerned, the deadline for the conduct of primaries elapsed and Zamfara has no list. That is the status quo.
“So, when the hearing begins, they can begin to argue why we should accept any list or not but the status quo is that the deadline elapsed and the APC did not conduct any primaries because submitting a list is different from conducting primaries.”
“You cannot generate a list without conducting primaries. The status quo is that INEC had said there was no conduct of primaries in Zamfara State within the stipulated time frame so the APC cannot submit a list to the INEC. That is the status quo as long as INEC is concerned.”
Attempts to get a reaction from the APC with respect to INEC’s insistence that it would not accept the Party’s nominees from Zamfara State were futile.
Calls to the mobile telephone number of the APC’s National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-onilu, were neither picked nor returned.
A response to a text message sent to him on the subject was still being awaited as of 7:40 pm.
But APC spokesman had in an interview in Abuja on Monday, said the party was not considering any legal option against INEC over its stand on Zamfara primaries.
Issa-Onilu had said, “It is not yet time for the party to take any legal action. Nothing calls for that; we cannot be reacting to what INEC says in public.”