Electoral Body, INEC Backtracks, Stands With Monitoring Team Report Confirming Bashir Machina As Original Winner Of Yobe North Senatorial Primary

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it would continue to defer to the report of its team which monitored the All Progressives Congress Yobe North senatorial district primary.

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan is currently locked in battle with Bashir Sheriff Machina for the ticket.

Machina emerged the winner of the primary election supervised by INEC officials earlier in the year. The senate president did not participate in the primary.

At the time the exercise was held, Lawan was pursuing his presidential ambition but lost to former Lagos State governor, Bola Tinubu.

Rather than submit the name of the elected candidate, the name of the senate president was submitted to the commission by the ruling APC, a move that led to the deliberate omission of their names from the published particulars of candidates late June.

To clarify the brewing controversy around the seat, INEC, on at least two different occasions, said it rejected the senate president’s name because he had not been validly nominated for the senatorial seat.

The commission, however, urged the duo to resolve their issues internally or seek redress in court.

Machina had since filed a suit before a Federal High Court, Damaturu to challenge the APC National Working Committee decision.

He is contending that efforts to replace his name with Lawan’s, who did not participate in the primary of the APC, was a breach of Section 84(14) of the Electoral Act, 2022, Article 21.3 of the APC Constitution and Paragraphs 20 (c), 27 (c), (d) and (f) of the APC Guidelines for the Nomination of Candidates for the 2023 General Elections, the suit is not premature, and Section 223 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

However, INEC document in the counter affidavit which was sighted by SaharaReporters and signed by one Mohammed Ayuba, Assistant Executive Officer in the Litigation and Prosecution Department of INEC, claimed to be part of the committee set up to investigate Machina’s complaint described the election as not validly conducted.

The affidavit filed by its electoral agency’s lawyer, Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN) discredited Machina’s election on the basis that it was conducted by Yobe State officers of the APC and not the National committee of the party as required by the law.

Reacting, Festus Okoye, National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, declared that the counter affidavit was contrary to report of its monitoring team.

The commission restated its earlier position that APC has no candidate for Yobe North since it has refused to submit the name of the candidate that won the primary to the commission.

It said, “Notwithstanding the matter in court and without prejudice to the consideration or likely outcome of the case in court, the commission reiterates its earlier position that it stands by the report of its monitoring team and it was on the basis of that report that the commission did not publish the name and personal particulars of any candidate for the Yobe North Senatorial District.

“Consequently, the commission will review its quality assurance protocols, including the preview by appropriate ranking officials of all processes filed on its behalf to ascertain their correctness in all material particulars with all reports and all information at its disposal before their presentation so that a situation like this is not repeated.

“The commission has also instructed the external counsel briefed to handle this matter to reflect the correct position, which aligns with the report submitted by our monitoring team.”

Sahara Reporters