Home Politics INEC: Osuntokun, Labour Party campaign DG,remains ZLP senatorial candidate

INEC: Osuntokun, Labour Party campaign DG,remains ZLP senatorial candidate

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It’s too late for the newly appointed Director-General of the Labour Party presidential campaign council, Mr Akin Osuntokun to withdraw from the 25th February 2023 senatorial election, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has ruled.

Osuntokun, who is on the ballot on the ticket of the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) for Ekiti Central senatorial seat, was appointed by the Labour Party earlier in the week to replace Dr Doyin Okupe.

Okupe was convicted last week Monday by a Federal High Court in Abuja sentenced Okupe to two years imprisonment for breaching the money laundering act.

The former presidential special adviser was found guilty of 26 out of a 59-count charge preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. He later paid the option of fine of N500,000 on each of the counts — totalling N13 million, and was released the same day.

He then announced his resignation the next day, while Osuntokun was appointed in his place.

Osuntokun said that he has abandoned his senatorial ambition, adding that his position as the Labour Party campaign DG is a “higher calling”.

But INEC’s National Commissioner for Information and Voter Education, Barrister Festus Okoye told TheCable that Osuntokun remains the ZLP senatorial candidate as the period for withdrawal and substitution of candidates had passed.

According to INEC’s timetable for the 2023 elections, 15th July was the last day for the withdrawal and substitution of candidates by political parties for presidential and national assembly elections.

“He remains the candidate of the Zenith Labour Party. The window for withdraw and substitution based on our timetable and the electoral act 2022 has closed. No candidate can withdraw, and none can come in except through a court order”, Okoye said.

On the legality of Osuntokun’s move, Okoye said that “the issue of party appointments remains within the domestic realm of the parties and the commission has nothing to do with it”.

In a statement, ZLP’s National Chairman, Mr Dan Nwanyanwu said that Osuntokun resigned from the party in August.

Nwanyanwu, a former Labour Party Chairman, added that the ZLP holds no grudges against him for decamping.

“The controversy generated by the appointment of Mr Akin Osuntokun as the DG of H/E Peter OBI Campaign Organisation is uncalled for”, the statement reads.

“Akin Osuntokun resigned from the Zenith Labour Party since August 2022 and therefore no longer a member of our Party.

“Prior to his resignation from ZLP, he held the ticket as a senatorial candidate in Ekiti State. As at the time of his resignation, we could not replace him because the window allowed by the Electoral Act for substitution had elapsed.

“We hold no grudges because it is his fundamental right to associate and exit from any organization. We wish him well in his newfound greener pasture.

“We believe this will put to rest the barrage of inquiries to us in this regard.”

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