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Nigeria: Opposition Party Hopeful VP Will Be Cleared for Elections

Nigeria’s opposition Action Congress party says it is hopeful its presidential candidate and the current Vice President Atiku Abubakar would be cleared by the Supreme Court to stand in this month’s presidential election. The Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) over the weekend omitted Abubakar’s name from its latest list of candidates for this month’s elections.

Lai Mohammed is the general secretary of the Action Congress party. From the capital, Abuja, he told VOA via telephone that the party is confident the Supreme Court will clear the vice president for the election.

“Atiku Abubakar has met all constitutional requirements and all aspects of the electoral Acts of 2006… but whereas a federal high court said that INEC cannot disqualify Atiku Abubakar because he has met all constitutional provisions…so this is what informs our confidence and in any event no matter the outcome of the Supreme Court, it is of little or no relevance with Atiku Abubakar’s eligibility,” he said.

Mohammed dismissed speculation the Supreme Court would determine the fate of the vice president in the upcoming elections.

"The matter before the Supreme Court has nothing to do with the eligibility of Atiku Abubakar. It’s a matter as to whether INEC has the right to disqualify any candidate who does not meet with constitutional requirement. Our position in the Action Congress is that neither the constitution nor the Electoral Act of 2006, empowers INEC to disqualify anybody,” he pointed out.

Mohamed said the Action Congress party would be part of the unity talks for all opposition parties this week.

“Yes, AC would be part of the talks. And you must not forget that more than three months ago, AC went into alliance with ANPP (All Nigeria People’s Party) and actually contrary to popular expectation that the purpose of the alliance was that we were going to provide a common candidate, actually the real purpose of the alliance was to one, to strengthen democracy and secondly, to ensure that the elections are free, fair and credible,” Mohammed said.

He reiterated that the AC has always championed the cause of unity among all the opposition parties to prevent rigging.

“The AC went a step further by inviting five other parties and we held several meetings between January, all aimed at making sure that the outgoing government does not use the power of incumbency to rig the elections,” he noted.

Mohammed said although the party fears what he called rigging, it is ready to ensure a free and fair elections.

“The solution to this problem is coming together and getting a strategy to defend your electoral victory. And I believe it is contrary to what is being talked about. PDP (ruling People’s Democratic Party) is not a winning party at all, and PDP has actually even lost the capacity to manipulate the way they did in 2003,” he said.