The Federal High Court, Abuja on Thursday ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to restore Natasha Akpoti as candidate of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, in the November 16 governorship election in Kogi State.
Justice Folashade Ogunbanjo-Giwa who gave the order said INEC had no power to disqualify any candidate for an election “as it is the exclusive reserve of a competent court of law.”
The judge therefore ordered INEC to include the names of the governorship and deputy governorship candidates of the SDP as well as the party’s logo on the ballot for the election.
The court noted that the provisions of sections 31(1) and 83 of the Electoral Act which holds that INEC cannot disqualify or reject candidate nominated by a political party for an election was aimed at ensuring that it does not lie within the executive realms of INEC to determine who participates in an election.
The SDP, Akpoti, her deputy, Adams Khalid, through their lawyer, Ola OLANIPEKUN, had filed a suit to challenge their exclusion from the forthcoming election in Kogi.
INEC had refused to accept the candidature of Khalid in replacement of the earlier nominated deputy governor, Mohammed Yakubu, on the grounds that Yakubu was not qualified in the first place to be fielded as a deputy governorship candidate in the election on account of his age.