Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, said it has watched with utmost dismay and profound concern the recurrent acrimony, violence and destruction of property, including the Commission’s property and equipment, which have characterized some recent political party congresses across the country.
The Commission maintained that this is the season of political party congresses and conventions to elect their leaders at various levels of party organization and that INEC is mandated by law to monitor them, as these meetings constitute a very important aspect of the electoral process and democracy generally in Nigeria.
In a statement issued Bar. Festus Okoye, National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, yesterday, posited that the level of violence in some of the Congresses is making it extremely difficult for the Commission to exercise its statutory oversight responsibility enshrined in Sections 85 and 87 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended). And that in one such Congress in Kaduna recently, violence broke out leading to the destruction of the Commission’s ballot boxes.
“Political parties are reminded that they have a clear obligation to ensure that their Congresses and Conventions are orderly, democratic and in accordance with the extant legal framework, their own constitutions and guidelines, as well as INEC’s regulations and guidelines.
“This Commission will not stand askance and watch party conventions and congresses degenerate into farcical rituals and violent fiascos that threaten lives and destroy property. For the avoidance of doubt, INEC will henceforth reconsider its involvement in these events, should they continue to put the lives of members of the public and staff of the Commission at risk. Henceforth, there will be far-reaching consequences in any situation where party congresses and conventions degenerate into violence and destruction of INEC property. Apart from replacing such destroyed materials, parties may be blacklisted from the receipt of INEC materials for their activities in the future. The Commission may also withdraw its staff from monitoring such violent political party meetings, with the resultant non-recognition of their outcomes,” Okoye stated.
INEC in the statement urged political parties of forthcoming primaries to select their candidates for upcoming elections and bye-elections, particularly those for the Anambra State Governorship election and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Area Council elections. And that Parties must stick to the respective Timetable and Schedule of Activities for these elections as released by the Commission, which has been communicated to them and is available at the INEC website.
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