The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has so far withdrawn 64 Certificates of Return.
The commission has also issued to persons declared winners by courts of law, after the conduct of the 2019 general elections.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu disclosed this in his remark at the presentation of Certificates of Return to winners of Zamfara State Governorship and members of the National Assembly –elect from the state.
Certificate of Return was issued to the Zamfara State Governor-elect, Dr Bello Matawalle of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and his Deputy, Mahdi Gusau.
Others who were issued their certificate of return were three Senators-elect and seven Members of the House of Representatives-elect under the platform of PDP.
The certificate of returns for the 24 members of the State Assembly would be presented in Gusau on Friday.
Yakubu harped on the need for political parties to conduct proper primaries before elections in order to reduce the spate of litigation associated with them.
“At the moment, there are 809 pre-election cases pending in various courts across the country challenging the conduct of primaries by political parties for the 2019 general elections.
“This is clearly more than the total number of petitions currently before the various election petition tribunals nationwide challenging the outcome of the main elections.
“In our last update, the Commission reported that 25 certificates of return had been withdrawn and issued to persons declared winners by courts of law. Since then, three more certificates have been withdrawn by court order.
“With the Zamfara case, the figure has now risen to 64. In addition, the Commission is studying nine more judgements we were served in the last one week in which primary elections conducted by different political parties were upturned by the courts.’’
Yakubu said that the Zamfara example was not the first pre-election case determined by the Supreme Court arising from the recent party primaries.
He recalled that earlier, the apex court had determined the case of Lere Federal Constituency in Kaduna State which the Commission had already complied with and issued the certificate of return to the winner.
Yakubu said that Nigeria democracy in particular and electoral process, in general, could never be virile unless political parties rise to the challenge of internal party democracy.
“ It is in this context that the latest judgements of the Supreme Court are crucial steps in strengthening our electoral jurisprudence. ‘’
Yakubu said that going forward, INEC would not accept the submission of names of candidates by political parties under Sec. 31of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) unless there was evidence, monitored by the Commission, of compliance with the provision of Sec. 87 of the Act.
“Party members interested in contesting elections start as aspirants before they emerge as candidates through the democratic process of direct or indirect primaries enshrined in Sec. 87 of the Electoral Act.
“It is only after they comply with this requirement of the law can their names be submitted to INEC under Sec. 31. We shall continue to work with the political parties to ensure strict compliance.’’
The INEC Chairman reminded political parties that party primaries for Kogi and Bayelsa election were scheduled to be conducted between Aug. 2 and Aug. 29.
He urged them to make the two elections shining examples of internal democracy by the way the political parties conduct their primary elections.
“This will no doubt have a positive impact on the conduct of the proper elections.’’
In his remark, Matawalle pledge to run an inclusive government.
He commended President Muhammadu Buhari for not interfering in the judiciary process, as well commended the judiciary for standing with the People of Zamfara when it matter most.
“I cannot overlook the prominent role played by our electoral body, INEC under the leadership of Yakubu in ensuring equality, fairness and level playing ground for all political players in Zamfara state and Nigeria in general.