Nigeria’s independent national electoral commission (INEC is expected today (Thursday) to release the final list of presidential and national assembly candidates who have been cleared to run in next month’s general elections. but the name of current vice president Atiku Abubakar who is the presidential candidate for the action congress party is likely to be missing from the list. The INEC said Wednesday that Abubakar is not eligible to stand as a presidential candidate since he is still under indictment for corruption. Supporters of the vice president have say the INEC decision is yet another attempt by the powers that be to thwart the presidential ambition of the vice president.
Shehu Garuba is the spokesman for Vice President Abubakar. He accused the electoral commission of being a tool used by the president against the vice president.
“We will not be surprised if the vice president’s name is missing from that list because it is now clear that the so-called Independent National Electoral Commission is not independent after all. That is, it has chosen to transform itself into a machete in the hand of the president who is seeking vendetta against perceived political enemies,” he pointed out.
Garuba said the vice president’s camp would take the disqualification to court.
“If the vice president’s name is missing, we are law abiding people. We believe in the due process of the law; we are a candidate for law and order in this election. We will go back to the court and tell the judge that this government is simply determined to continue with its lawless ways…this electoral commission that it has pocketed is determined to go against what the law says they should do,” he noted.
Garuba said he is hopeful the court will uphold the rights of Nigerian citizens.
“We believe the court itself understands the environment in which they are operating… we are very much aware that the court will do everything they can to safeguard citizens’ rights, and to also ensure that they are not used in a way to diminish or to undermine this young democracy,” Garuba noted.
He said INEC is performing an illegal act by playing a role in what he called an effort to frustrate the vice president in his presidential bid.
“Let me first of all observe that the fact that INEC has even gone to court to challenge a declaratory judgment by a court of law in Nigeria is an indication that INEC has chosen to be an opponent of the vice president, that it has chosen partisanship rather than independence and neutrality,” Garuba said.
He accused the electoral commission for not playing the role it is mandated to play.
“Ordinarily, they (INEC) ought not to be an interested party in the ongoing legal battles. They ought not to be interested in who qualifies or who is disqualified. They are just to do their clerical duties to assembly the list of candidates, printing the ballot papers and allowing Nigerians to choose whoever they want to be their legislators, governors and president,” he said.
Garuba said the vice president expects more frustrations from what he called the powers that be.
“Be that as it may, the vice president’s campaign would have been derailed a long time ago…I assure you that this president and his party, who are seeking vendetta, will come back through other ways. We are convinced that we will continue to live with these distractions to the very last day. The important thing is, whatever obstacle they put in our way, we overcome them,” he said.