No law for placeholders in lieu of running mates — INEC

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The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has dismissed the concept of “placeholder” for vice-presidential candidates as illegal, saying it “has no place in Nigeria’s constitutional and legal framework.”

To beat the June 17 deadline for submission of presidential and vice presidential candidates, some parties submitted names of vice-presidential candidates who they described as placeholders.

The ruling All progressives Congress, APC, and the Labour Party, LP, are caught in the web of placeholder running mates

In the APC, Kabiru Masari, the party’s Welfare Secretary was named as the running mate to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

Some APC leaders said Masari is a “placeholder”, adding that a final candidate would be named.

Indeed, sources told Vanguard, last night, that Masari had signed a withdrawal form and would not constitute a problem when told to do so.

However, National Chairman of the APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamau, said the party has not breached any law in nominating its vice presidential candidate, saying it took its decision after “careful” legal consultations.

Former Borno State governor, Senator Kashim Shettima; Kano State governor, Umar Ganduje; and Plateau State governor, Simon Lalong, are said to be top among those being considered as Tinubu’s running mate.

In like manner, Dr Doyin Okupe announced that he would be “standing in as the vice-presidential candidate” of Mr. Peter Obi, the Labour party standard bearer.

The LP is in talks with Senator Musa Kwankwaso of New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP; and former INEC chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega of the Peoples Redemption Party, PRP, among others, for an alliance.

If that happens, Okupe would give way to another person as LP vice presidential candidate. Parties have up to July 17 to substitute candidates.

‘A Nigerian invention’

Speaking on the issue in a chat with Arise TV, yesterday, Dr Festus Okoye, the Commissioner for Information and Voter Education of INEC, said the “placeholder is a unique Nigerian invention” for which there is no legal provision, adding that the electoral umpire could only replace a candidate if the person writes a “sworn affidavit stating that he is withdrawing from the race within the time frame provided by the law.”

INEC spoke as a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja ordered it not to end the ongoing voters’ registration on June 30 as planned.

The court order got the endorsement of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and Social Democratic Party, SDP, with INEC saying it was yet to receive a certified court order.

Said Okoye: “The constitution makes it very clear that you cannot run alone as a presidential candidate. You must nominate an associate to run with you for that position.

“As far as INEC is concerned, the presidential candidates have submitted their associates to run with them in the presidential election.

“As far as we are concerned, there is no form submitted by the presidential candidates where they said ‘we are submitting this person’s name as a place or space holder. The issue of space or place holder is a unique Nigerian invention that has no place in our constitutional and legal framework.

“Political parties’ candidates have submitted names of associates to run with them, and that is the position of the law as at today and nothing has changed.

“For there to be a substitution of a candidate, the vice-presidential candidate must write to INEC, with a sworn affidavit stating that he is withdrawing from the race within the time-frame provided by the law. That’s the only way there can be substitution of candidates.”

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