Sequel to the death of Professor Uche Ikonne, former Vice Chancellor, Abia State University and the Governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in Abia State, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has advised the party to arrange for fresh primaries to elect his replacement in accordance with the laws of Nigeria. Professor Ikonne passed
Sequel to the death of Professor Uche Ikonne, former Vice Chancellor, Abia State University and the Governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in Abia State, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has advised the party to arrange for fresh primaries to elect his replacement in accordance with the laws of Nigeria.
Professor Ikonne passed away on Wednesday, 25 January, around 4 a.m. at the National Hospital Abuja, according to a statement from his first son, Uche-Ikonne Chikezie, on behalf of the family.
Abia State is being governed by PDP-led government of Mr. Okezie Ikpeazu.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), has advised the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to conduct a fresh gubernatorial primary poll within the next 14 days. Mr. Festus Okoye Esq., INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee said that since the election was still one month away, the party still had the window to conduct fresh primary within 14 days of Ikonne’s death.
“Section 33 of the Electoral Act, 2022 is clear, unambiguous, and unequivocal that a political party shall not be allowed to change or substitute its candidate whose name has been submitted to the commission under section 29 of the Electoral Act except in the case of death or withdrawal,”
He said; “if the candidate dies when polls have commenced, section 34(3)(b) of the Act provides that the running mate shall continue with the election and nominate a new running mate.” The commission further warned that should the PDP fail to conduct fresh primary poll within 14 days of the death of the candidate, it would be assumed that they would not have a candidate in the election.
Mr. Okoye said “provided that in the case of such withdrawal or death of a candidate, the political party affected shall, within 14 days of the occurrence of the event, hold a fresh primary to produce and submit a fresh candidate to the commission for the election concerned.
“The period, slated in the timetable and schedule of activities for the withdrawal of candidates has lapsed. In the said timetable, the last days for withdrawal by governorship and State Assembly candidates was August 12, 2022.
“Moreover, section 31 of the Act makes it clear that a candidate can only withdraw his or her candidature by notice in writing submitted to the political party that nominated him and such must be conveyed to the political party not later than 90 days to election,” the commission explained.
But speaking on the Abia governorship candidate, Okoye said; “the case in hand is different from the issue of withdrawal of candidates. The issue at hand is death and the candidate died when the period of election is still a month away. The Electoral Act permits the party that nominated him to conduct fresh primary poll for the purpose of replacing him.
“If they fail to conduct fresh primaries within 14 days of the death of the candidate, they will not have a candidate in the election. The situation is different if the candidate dies just when polls are about to commence but has not commenced.
“In such instances, the Chief Electoral Commissioner being satisfied of the death can countermand the poll and appoint some other convenient date for the election within 14 days.
“However, If the candidate dies when polls have commenced, section 34(3)(b) of the Act provides that the running mate shall continue with the election and nominate a new running mate.
“Section 34(3)(b) of the Act does not apply in this instance. The operative provision herein is section 33 of the Act since the period for the conduct of polls is still almost a month away,” he explained.
Announcing his father’s death, his son, Dr Chikezie Uche-Ikonne, said “I regret to announce the death of my dear father, Prof Eleazar Uchenna Ikonne, who died at the National Hospital Abuja today January 25, 2023 by 4 am after a brief illness.
“He was recovering after taking proper treatment in the United Kingdom but relapsed a few days ago leading to multiple cardiac arrests from which he didn’t recover from.
“Further details and arrangements would be made known to the public after deliberations and meetings are made within the family”.
The death of Professor Ikonne may have altered the political permutations in Abia State PDP family. The Governor of Abia State, Okezie Ikpeazu, a member of the PDP G-5 Governors, who highly favoured Prof Ikonne may indirectly be forced to the negotiating table with the Professor Iyorcha Ayu-led PDP National Working Committee. In the political process, a lot of power is vested in the NWC of the party for the nomination of candidates for elective positions.
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