The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that the Abia state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) can conduct a fresh primary election within 14 days to nominate a new candidate following the death of Prof. Uchenna Ikonne.
Ikonne, who was the PDP’s governorship candidate in Abia state, died at the National Hospital Abuja on Wednesday after a brief illness, according to the statement issued by his son, Dr. Uche-Ikonne Chikezie.
INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, to the Daily Sun that Abia PDP had the window to conduct fresh primary within 14 days of Ikonne’s death.
If the party fails to conduct primary election within the 14-day period, it would be deemed to have forfeited its candidacy, according the Electoral Act 2022 (as amended).
Okoye 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.”
“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 of withdrawal,” Okoye explained.
He added, “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.”
Ifunanya Ikueze is an Engineer, Safety Professional, Writer, Investor, Entrepreneur and Educator.