The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has directed the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Abia State to hold a new primary election within 14 days to replace its deceased governorship candidate, Professor Uche Eleazar Ikonne.
Ikonne died of “multiple cardiac arrests,” according to his family.
INEC directed the PDP to replace its governorship candidate, stating that the party’s deputy governorship candidate could not automatically assume the position of gubernatorial candidate because the election had not yet begun.
Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner on Voter Education and Publicity, stated that the party had the option of holding a new primary within 14 days, as required by the Electoral Act.
Okoye stated that the 14-day period began on the day Ikonne died.
“He (the deputy governorship candidate) can only fly the flag if the election has begun,” the national commissioner stated. They must hold a new primary within 14 days of the death and then submit their results to INEC.”
Ikonne’s family formally announced his death yesterday, saying he died at the National Hospital Abuja “after a brief illness” at 4 a.m.
Dr. Uche-Ikonne Chikezie, the deceased’s son, said in a three-paragraph statement that his late father had shown signs of recovery after receiving “proper treatment” abroad. Chikezie claimed that his father relapsed and died as a result of “multiple cardiac arrests.”
“He was recovering after receiving proper treatment in the United Kingdom but relapsed a few days ago, resulting in multiple cardiac arrests from which he did not recover,” the statement said of Ikonne.
“Further details and arrangements would be made known to the public after deliberations and meetings within the family,” the family spokesman added.
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”.
Meanwhile, the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, the governor of Abia State, Dr. Ikpeazu Okezie, the Labour Party (LP) governorship candidate, Dr. Alex Otti, and other well-meaning Nigerians have expressed their condolences over the incident.
Atiku laments the death of an Abia governorship candidate.
Atiku described Ikonne as an erudite scholar of repute with vast experience in administration, whose contributions to advancing knowledge within the academic community would be appreciated by future generations, according to a statement issued by his media adviser, Paul Ibe.
He described Ikonne’s death as a shock because he was a strong member of the PDP who should have led the party to victory in the upcoming general election in Abia State.
As a mark of respect for the party’s late standard bearer, Ikpeazu ordered that all flags at Abia State PDP offices be flown at half-mast.
In a press statement that he personally signed, the governor directed that the ruling party suspend all campaign activities at all levels until Monday, January 30.