The All Progressive Congress APC, yesterday gave a defiant reaction to INEC’s decision to bar the party from fielding candidates in the 2019 elections in Zamfara State.

The Electoral umpire had issued a memo to the party on Wednesday indicating the ban was due to its inability to meet up with deadline given to conduct primaries Nationwide.

The news wasn’t received well in the APC camp as the party reacted defiantly, with party chiefs swiftly debunking the claims of the commission and still confident of fielding candidates.

APC National chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomole in a stiff reaction rejected the sanctions, noting that the party had ultimately complied with the October 7th deadline.He noted that although there were disagreements on the outcome of primaries in the state, the party had in time come up with consensus candidates for various offices.

The disagreement stems from a letter sent by INEC to the APC citing constitutional grounds to back up its decision of the imposed ban.

The letter signed by the Commission’s acting scribe, Okechukwu Ndeche, noted that INEC’s decision was based on the provisions of Sections 87 and 31 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).

The letter titled, “Failure to Conduct Party Primaries in Zamfara State within the stipulated time frame” disclosed by Vanguard reads..

“Please refer to the Time-table and Schedule of Activities for the 2019 General Elections released by the Commission on 9th January 2018. You would note from the timetable that the conduct of party primaries is scheduled to take place between 18th August and 7th October 2018″

“Kindly also refer to the last schedule communicated by your party to the Commission on the dates of party primaries nationwide, including Zamfara, vide your letter Ref. PC/NHDQ/lNEC/19/18/51 dated 3rd October 2018. However, report received from our office in Zamfara State shows that no primaries were conducted by your party in the state, notwithstanding that our officials were fully mobilized and deployed.

“Consequently, based on the provisions of Sections 87 and 31 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), the Commission does not expect that your party will submit names of any candidate from Zamfara State. For clarity, our position, therefore, is that the All Progressives Congress, APC, will not be fielding candidates for the Governorship, National Assembly and State Assembly elections in Zamfara State for the 2019 General Election”

“Please accept the assurances of the Commission’s highest regards.”

In a quick response the same day, the National chairman of the party in a letter, disagreed with the decision and in defiance insisted that the party will field candidates in the elections.

In a letter signed by the APC chairman Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the party said, following the high level of disagreements between the political camps involved, all the aspirants met at City King Hotel, Gusau, to find a truce.

“After hours of intense horse-trading, a consensus was reached within the spirit and context of the Electoral Act and the constitution of our party on the basis of which a list was produced which was confirmed/affirmed by all delegates present. This was done in strict compliance with Section 87 (6) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended).

“Therefore, the claim in your letter under reference that “no primaries were conducted by your party in the state, notwithstanding that our officials were fully mobilized and deployed” could only be referring to their observation that actual voting did not take place, which is not the only mode prescribed for producing candidates in the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended).

“We, therefore, affirm that indeed, primaries took place in Zamfara State,” the party said. The APC said PDP also had similar issues in Kano State and wondered why INEC did not bar the opposition party from fielding candidates.

Oshiomhole said: “The contents of your said letter seem to conclude that no primaries were conducted by the APC in Zamfara State. We wish to state emphatically that nothing can be farther from the actual situation in Zamfara State.

“Kindly find attached a comprehensive report from the Zamfara Electoral Committee of the All Progressives Congress and signed by all the members on the conduct of primary elections for Zamfara State held between 6th & 7th October 2018.

“The summary of the report, as you will find, is that following the high level of friction, disagreements and threatened violence by various political camps before the primaries, all the aspirants met at City King Hotel, Gusau, to find a truce.

“Please also refer to the lNEC’s Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2019 General Elections released by the Commission on the 9th January 2018. By that timetable, all political parties are expected to submit a list of their candidates on or before 18th of October, 2018, after exhausting all internal procedures for Appeals arising out of the congresses.

“As a party, we are in the process of exhausting those internal procedures before forwarding the names of our candidates to you. We are perplexed that you did not wait for us to submit the names of our candidates in Zamfara State (considering that the time within which such submission should take place has not elapsed) before raising your observation in your letter under reference.

“This is more so when we received no correspondence from the Commission at least to inquire from our party the true state of affairs in Zamfara State, in the spirit of a fair hearing, before making haste to write your letter. We, however, note that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) did not also hold primaries in Kano, but no such similar letter was written to the PDP in relation to Kano State.

“It is our contention, in the circumstance, that your letter is not only pre-emptive, but your position seems to negate the spirit of any fair hearing and is devoid of legal basis.

“BE INFORMED, (emphasis by the party) that in the spirit of due compliance with the law, we affirm that we shall indeed be presenting candidates for Governorship, National Assembly and State Assembly Elections in Zamfara State for the 2019 General elections before the deadline for submission of such names which has been fixed by your Commission on the 18th of October, 2018 and in line with Section 87 (6) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended).” he said.

The news of the ban was considered by many as the first major loss the party recorded in the context of power in the country as the 2019 elections approaches.

The party also face a fight in Rivers State as the governorship candidate, Tonye Cole, and all other candidates have also been disqualified.

The candidates produced by the Rotimi Amaechi-led faction of the party were banned after a high court voided the congresses that brought forth the ward, local government and state executives who presided over the party primaries.