National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, said on Tuesday that the party would propose amendments to the Electoral Act to address lapses ahead of the 2023 general elections.
He spoke at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, after he paid a visit to President Muhammadu Buhari.
Oshiomhole visited the President soon after the Supreme Court reaffirmed its decision that Senator Hope Uzodinma was the duly elected Governor of Imo State.
He praised the court for standing by its decision, noting that it was expected.
However, Oshiomhole stated that observable lapses in the Act needed to be amended to further strengthen democracy in the country.
Oshiomhole cited the instance of the powers of the law courts in deciding for the electorate who would be their leaders, as one of the major weaknesses in the Act.
He argued that voters went to the poll with the belief that they voted for a choice candidate to lead them.
But, he noted that because of the powers of the courts to interfere with the process, using “all manner of technicalities”, someone who lost an election ended up being the winner.
Citing the case of Bayelsa State, the APC chairman called such interventions by the courts an “imposition” that did not promote the democratic process.
Oshiomhole told journalists at the State House that, “We will discuss as a party, the observed gaps in the Electoral Act and propose amendments at least a year ahead of the 2023 general elections”..
He argued that at best, the courts could order a fresh poll, but not to make the loser become the winner.
The APC chairman added, “Courts should not impose. If a court finds out that the preferred candidate did not win, for me, the only democratic, legal option will be to repeat the exercise. Nothing should empower the court to impose a man rejected by the people, on the people. That goes to the heart of democracy and it destroys the fabrics of our democratic process.
“So, in amending the Electoral Act, one of the things the legislature should do is that in the event that the people have voted in good faith for a candidate that was validly put before them by INEC, the court cannot impose the person that was rejected.”
Oshiomhole stated, “The very best the court can do is to order the exercise to be repeated. In a democracy, nobody other than the people can choose who governs them, not the courts.”
He also claimed that in the case of Bayelsa State, the name a candidate bore should not be a major litigation issue, so long as the electorate knew whom they voted for.
Oshiomhole added, “Now, the man in Bayelsa (Governor Diri Douye) is going to govern a state that did not mandate him, purely on technical grounds. That is not the democracy that we chose. The courts cannot impose losers as winners on the people. ”
Speaking on the fate of the sacked deputy governor of the state, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, whose certificate forgery scandal led to the APC’s David Lyon, losing the state, Oshiomhole said those who criticised the party for not doing due diligence were ignorant of the processes.
According to him, it’s not the party’s national headquarters that screens the running mates to the governorship candidates.
He stated that the party only screened the governorship candidate ahead of primaries, while it was the duty of the candidate to pick his running mate after his emergence.
“Some candidates may submit a dummy name to INEC just to beat the deadline for the submission of names of candidates, but may make replacements just hours or a day to the expiration”, he added.