Be strict with certificates submitted by candidates – HEDA tells INEC

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An anti-corruption and human rights organization, Human and Environmental Development Agenda, HEDA, Sunday, called on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to be strict with authencity of certificates submitted by candidates of political parties.

This was contained in a letter addressed to the Chairman of INEC, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, by the Chairman of HEDA, Mr. Olanrewaju Suraju, where he pointed that INEC should adhere strictly to the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 and its Guidelines due to recent controversies surrounding the availability and validity of some certificates submitted to INEC.

He urged Prof Yakubu not to be intimidated by politicians whose certificates are doubtful as most of them fall short of the requirements and provisions of the Electoral Act.

HEDA’s boss pointed that Nigeria’s political class are fond of duplicitous and deceptive rhetorics when they want to contest in elections, and goes all out to scheme their way through by all crook means to achieve their desperate ambition.

The letter reads in part, “We are not unaware of every crooked game plan and shenanigans by some Politicians regarding their eligibility or otherwise to run for different positions. We have seen different unfounded moonlight tales by either elected or appointed persons about the whereabouts of their credentials and how the court adjudicated those matters.

“As a leading Anti-Corruption Organization and Non-partisan Human Rights and Development league with the mandate to protect and promote universally recognized human rights, public accountability, transparency and environmental justice in Nigeria and Africa, in accordance with International best standards, we call on INEC to be guided by the provisions of Electoral Act 2022 and its guidelines.

“We have been keenly following the developments around submission of candidates’ names and credentials list for the 2023 general elections by political parties, and the most recent news of candidates claiming their school certificates are missing. Nigerians cannot be cowed by malicious and mendacious claims emanating from the political class.

“We believe that the Commission’s guidelines towards preparation for the 2023 general election to political parties and the public are clear enough on presentation of certificates.

“We kindly refer Section 115(1)(c) of the Electoral Act to the Commission which provide thus:

“A person who – (c) delivers to an electoral officer any nomination paper or result from knowing it to be forged – commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a maximum term of imprisonment for two years.”

However, he (Suraju) advised INEC boss to reject submission of affidavits in place of certificates by candidates due to the several controversies around swearing to affidavit.
He noted that an affidavit cannot replace an institution’s certificate, hence; an affidavit only contains facts believed by the deponent to be true which cannot stand in place of primary evidence.

He stressed that it is general knowledge that anyone who claims to have misplaced his/her certificate could always apply to the awarding institution for the issuance of another copy or Certified True Copy of the certificate or his transcript.

He added that no candidate is above the laws of the land irrespective of his or her status, and expected to strictly comply with provisions of the law.

“We demand that your Commission communicate the invalidity of affidavits as submitted by some candidates in the forthcoming elections to all affected candidates and their parties.

“Failure to undertake this statutory responsibility will leave our organisation with no other option than to approach a competent court of jurisdiction for an order restraining your Commission from recognising such candidates”, he demand.
However, he commended the Commission for listening to public outcries regarding extension of registration of new voters, which is a demonstration of the Commission’s resolve to a free and fair election wherein the largest number of eligible voters are freely allowed to exercise their franchise.

“We commend the INEC and re-iterate our commitment to ensuring good governance in Nigeria and assure the Commission of our unflagging support in ensuring a free and fair election in Nigeria”, he added. (Vanguard)

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