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April poll: INEC bars Atiku, Aliís wife

Posted by IHEANACHO NWOSU Political Editor and SIMON IMOBO TSWAM, Abuja on 2007/02/23 | Views: 853 |

April poll: INEC bars Atiku, Aliís wife

THERE were strong indications yesterday that the Vice President and Action Congress (AC) presidential flagbearer, Atiku Abubakarís name was not among presidential candidates cleared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to contest the April 21 election.

ē AC: Nobody can stop us

ē Alleges plot to extend handover date

THERE were strong indications yesterday that the Vice President and Action Congress (AC) presidential flagbearer, Atiku Abubakarís name was not among presidential candidates cleared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to contest the April 21 election.

But National Publicity Secretary of AC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said the party will not lose sleep over that because, according to him, neither the commission nor the Presidency has the power to stop Abubakar from contesting the presidential election.

Also, the party has raised alarm over alleged plot to shift the handover date to the next government from May 29, to October 1, urging Nigerians to resist such move.

Strong indication also emerged that wife of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), national chairman and senatorial candidate for Delta North, Mrs. Maryam Ali may have been disqualified by the commission.

INECís sources who pleaded anonymity told Daily Champion that AC currently does not have a presidential candidate. "What I can tell you authoritatively is that AC did not field a candidate for presidential election.

"We duly informed the party before the expiration date for substitution of candidates to change its candidate, Atiku Abubakar but it refused. We closed our doors and the party has no candidate."

He, however, said the situation could still change if the court ruled against the VPís disqualification. "We donít do anything outside the law. If the court ruled that he should be allowed to contest, we will accept that," he said.

INEC recently wrote the leadership of AC, requesting for the substitution of Abubakar as the partyís presidential candidate, citing a case of indictment against him.

The party however accused INEC of playing out the agenda of the presidency and insisted that it will not change Abubakarís name. It warned that stopping the vice president from contesting presidential election was an invitation to chaos.

Meanwhile, INEC said the full list of candidates that will contest the April elections in different categories will be made public today.

INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Political Parties Monitoring Committee, Dr. Ishmael Igbani, who spoke to Daily Champion yesterday at the INEC headquarters in Abuja on the on-going verification exercise, said since the exercise was scheduled for two days, it would be premature to talk of the final list till today (Thursday) when the exercise would have come to an end.

Igbani reiterated INECís position that it is neither a screening agency nor a disqualification commission, saying " INEC does not disqualify, it does not screen either we only verify."

Describing the commission as "a friendly commission", he said the two-day verification exercise was to enable INEC look at some tendered documents like birth certificates and party membership cards.

Earlier , while addressing the candidates in the commissionís conference hall, the INEC chairman, Prof. Maurice Iwu, said the INEC verification exercise was based on four criteria namely, citizenship, age, educational qualifications and membership of political parties.

While disclosing that after the verification exercise, candidates would become authentic candidates of their various parties, Iwu said the verification also ends the substitution of candidates by political parties as INEC would not be party to any endless substitutions as was the case in the 2003 general elections.

The INEC boss added that since this verification was final and conclusive, the commission would now go ahead to print ballot papers with candidates pictures on them.

He charged the candidates to engage in campaigns of issues, warning that the commission has zero tolerance for thuggery and every form of electoral malpractice.

Sighted yesterday at the Commissionís headquarters were notable politicians like Alhaji Abubakar Hashidu, former Governor of Yobe State who is now flying the DPP guber-ticket for Yobe; Sen. Tokunboh Afikuyomi, ANPP flag bearer for Lagos.

Also yesterday, reliable sources at the Wadata Plaza (PDP headquarters), told Daily Champion that Maryann Ali, wife of Ahmadu Ali and PDP senatorial candidate for Delta North, may have lost her ticket to someone else. Others also mentioned as possible losers were Hon. Ita Enang, who is reported to have lost his Itu Federal Constituency ticket(Uyo State) to Dr. Henry Akpabio.

The source said the names which were there as at the close of work Tuesday, were replaced shortly before midnight Tuesday on orders from above.

Meanwhile, the party also accused President Olusegun Obasanjo of using foul language at campaign rallies in his description of members of other parties.

The party in a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, condemned renewed bid by some members of the National Assembly to push for a shift of date of inauguration of a new government from May 29 to October 1. It vowed to mobilise Nigerians to stop the legislators.

"This satanic plan, which we are sure is being pushed by the presidency, is simply another means of achieving tenure elongation, which was shot down a long time ago by patriotic lawmakers," the party said.

AC said it was not surprised that the issue of tenure elongation had come up again, going by the body language and actions of President Olusegun Obasanjo in recent times.

On the apology to Adamawa indigenes for appointing Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as Vice President rendered by President Obasanjo, the party said:

"We have read with amusement President Obasanjoís purported apology to God and to Nigerians over his choice of Vice President Atiku Abubakar as running mate in 1999."

"We are however compelled to ask whether it is that choice that has made it impossible for the PDP-led federal government to put food on the table for millions of hungry Nigerians; bring our dilapidated infrastructure, especially roads, up to par; ensure constant supply of electricity and provide jobs for the masses of unemployed Nigerians," it said.

On the Presidentís statement, that those attempting to cause trouble in any part of the country "will curse the day they were born", the party said it was simply a pretence to crack down on the opposition as part of a grand plan to prevent the elections from holding.

"These people said to be working to create chaos exist only in the imagination of the presidency, and it is a prelude to a planned crack down on the opposition to knock them out of contention for the April polls," AC said.

"It is this president that has described the forthcoming elections as a do-or-die affair for his party, a statement that is nothing short of incitement into violence," it added

AC expressed worry that the President has continued to employ intemperate language, even when such language diminishes the exalted office of the president and threatens the very essence of the countryís existence.

ĎíWe appeal to President Obasanjo to see himself as the President of all Nigerians, irrespective of their party affiliation, rather than the President of the PDP, and to ensure that his statements are a source of hope for his citizens, rather than a trigger for panic," the party said

"We have said it several times and we believe it is worth repeating, that this government is making every move to ensure that the forthcoming elections are either not held or are at best stalemated," it said.

"The angry rhetoric and desperate moves to shut the political space are aimed at achieving one thing: To perpetuate the ruling party in power despite its glaring failures.

"However, we will like to say, without equivocating, that the elections must be held as scheduled while this administration must quit office at the expiration of its tenure on May 29, 2007," the party added.

It said anything else would amount to sabotaging the countryís democracy and short-circuiting the hopes of Nigerians to seek a fresh start after eight years of unparalleled bad governance and reforms that have left the citizenry much worse and poorer than they were in 1999.

Commenting on the Presidentís language, AC said it amounted to causing tension in the country for the President to be using abusive language on leaders of other parties.

It contended that using strong words was capable of causing panic among the masses and sending a wrong signal to the people about the election.

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