Nigeria Electoral Commission Rejects Ruling Party Faction

Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission rejected a request by a breakaway faction of the ruling party to be recognized as the official People’s Democratic Party.

Known as New People’s Democratic Party, the faction led by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar is challenging the leadership of party Chairman Bamangar Tukur, who has the backing of President Goodluck Jonathan. The dissidents, supported by seven of 23 state governors elected on the platform of the party, asked the electoral commission to recognize its chosen officials as the rightful leaders of the party.

The emergence of the leadership of the party “followed the process that is laid down in law and there’s no basis for not continuing to accord it recognition,” Kayode Idowu, a spokesman for the electoral body known as INEC, said today in a phone interview from the capital, Abuja. “According to INEC records, there are no splinter groups.”

The split comes as political maneuvering begins before general elections in 2015 in Africa’s biggest oil-producing country. The defectors are demanding that Jonathan, a southern Christian, announce that he won’t run in the 2015 vote, respecting an unwritten rule in the party to rotate the presidency between the mainly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south.

A court in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, yesterday dismissed a lawsuit filed by the dissident group to stop Tukur and other officials from representing the party, citing lack of jurisdiction, according to court records.

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