One month to the 2023 general election, two governorship candidates were reported to have died on the same day.
While Nigerians were recovering from the shocking news of the death of the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in Abia State, Prof. Uchenna Ikonne, the passing of the governorship candidate of the National Rescue Movement in Adamawa State, Alhaji Aliyu Maina, was also announced.
Maina was said to have died on Wednesday, January 25 after a brief illness in Abuja, the same day Prof. Ikonne, was confirmed dead.
The National Publicity Secretary of the NRM, Olusola Afuye, confirmed Maina’s death in a statement on Thursday.
He said, “According to the statement from the family, late Alhaji Abba Maina died on Wednesday, January 25 at his residence in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, after a brief illness.
“He has been buried according to Muslim rite. We pray to Almighty Allah to protect his family and all his loved ones.
“We are also calling on all his family members, business and political associates to show late Maina’s family love and care during this mourning period.”
“Further details and arrangements would be made known to the public after deliberations and meetings are made with his immediate family and his political family,” the statement added.
It was also learnt that Ikonne, a professor and former vice chancellor of the Abia State University, died on Wednesday at the National Hospital in Abuja, according to a statement from his first son, Uche-Ikonne Chikezie, on behalf of the family.
He said, “I regret to announce the death of my dear father, Prof Eleazar Uchenna Ikonne, who died at the National Hospital Abuja today, 25th January 2023 by 4am after a brief illness.”
“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 statement added.
In his comment, Abia State governor, Okezie Ikpeazu described Ikonne’s death as an immeasurable loss to the state.
The governor had directed that all flags in the state should be flown at half-mast, while all campaign activities of the party should be suspended.
Constitutional provision for candidates’ death
One of the landmark political events that happened in 2022 was the passage of the amended Electoral Act.
The amended Act states that following the death of the governorship candidates, fresh poll must be conducted within 14 days to produce a candidate.
Section 33 of the Electoral Act states that a political party can only substitute a nominated candidate if the candidate withdraws from the race or dies.
It says, “A political party shall not be allowed to change or substitute its candidate whose name has been submitted under section 29 of this Act, except in the case of death or withdrawal by the candidate:
“Provided that in the case of such withdrawal or death of a candidate, the political party affected shall, within 14 days of the occurrence of the event, hold a fresh primary election to produce and submit a fresh candidate to the Commission for the election concerned.”
Section 34(1) of the Act also makes further provisions on the death of a candidate.
It reads, “If after the time for the delivery of nomination paper and before the commencement of the poll, a nominated candidate dies, the Chief National Electoral Commissioner shall being satisfied with the fact of the death, countermand the poll in which the deceased candidate was to participate and the Commission shall appoint some other convenient date for the election within 14 days.”
Going by subsection 2 of the aforementioned Act, the list of voters to be used “shall be the official voters’ register which was to be used if the election had not been postponed.”