The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has directed the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Abia State to conduct a fresh primary election in the next 14 days to replace its governorship candidate, Professor Uche Eleazar Ikonne, who died yesterday in Abuja.
A statement from Ikonne’s family said he died of “multiple cardiac arrests”.
In directing PDP to replace its governorship candidate, INEC clarified that the deputy governorship candidate of the party could not automatically assume the position of the gubernatorial candidate since the election was yet to start.
INEC National Commissioner on Voter Education and Publicity, Festus Okoye, told Thisday that the party had the opportunity of conducting a fresh primary within 14 days, according to the dictates of the Electoral Act.
Okoye said the 14 days started from the day Ikonne died.
The national commissioner stated, “He (the deputy governorship candidate) can only fly the flag if election has commenced. They have to hold a fresh primary within 14 days of the death and then they submit to INEC.”
The family of Ikonne formally announced the demise of the Abia PDP governorship hopeful yesterday, saying he passed on by 4am at the National Hospital Abuja “after a brief illness”.
In a three paragraph statement, the son of the deceased, Dr. Uche-Ikonne Chikezie, said his late father had shown signs of recovery after receiving, “proper treatment” abroad. Chikezie said his father relapsed in return and eventually succumbed to “multiple cardiac arrests.”
The statement said of Ikonne, “He was recovering after taking proper treatment in the United Kingdom but relapsed a few days ago leading to multiple cardiac arrests for which he didn’t recover from.”
The family spokesman added that “further details and arrangements would be made known to the public after deliberations and meetings are made within the family”.
After months of speculations on the whereabouts of Ikonne, Ikpeazu had finally admitted during a radio programme last week that the governorship hopeful was, “lately indisposed”.
But he had assured the people that the sick candidate was recovering gradually and progressively, adding that he would “return sooner or later”.