INEC reads riot act to political parties

From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja

Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has given a marching order to the 18 registered political parties to discontinue the trend of courts determining candidates for elections.

It equally expressed disappointment over failure of many political parties that participated in the Edo and Ondo governorship polls to comply with Sections 92 (3) and 93(4) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), requiring them to submit to the commission their election expenses reports within a stipulated period.

Chairman of the commission, Mahmood Yakubu, who issued the warnings during a second quarterly meeting with political parties in Abuja, yesterday confirmed that 18 political parties have indicated interests in fielding candidates for the November 6, Anambra State governorship election.

“The commission is not happy that candidates for elections are now being determined through litigation long after elections have been concluded and winners declared by INEC. The problem lies squarely with the conduct of party primaries and nomination of candidates by some political parties.

“We urge you to hold yourselves to the same high standard of free, fair and credible elections that you hold INEC in all elections. You must ensure strict compliance with your party constitutions, the law and the commission’s regulations and guidelines on party primaries in particular and the management of party affairs in general.

“After all, Nigerians only exercise their democratic rights to elect leaders from the candidates presented by political parties. Electing good leaders begins with the quality of primaries conducted by political parties. We will do our part to ensure our elections continue to improve,” he said.

Frowning at the failure of some political parties that participated in the Edo and Ondo states governorship elections to submit their electoral expenses and contributions reports, he warned of the consequences of their actions.

“May I also draw your attention to your obligation, under Sections 92 (3) and 93(4) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), which requires political parties to submit to the commission their election expenses reports within six months and election contribution report within three months after the declarations of result of an election.

“We have reminded political parties of these obligations in respect of the Edo and Ondo governorship elections held last year. However, only seven out of 14 political parties have responded in the case of Edo State and eight out of 17 for Ondo State.

“We wish to remind political parties of the consequences of the failure to do so as enshrined in the Electoral Act. We, therefore, expect all defaulting parties to comply in earnest as you prepare for forthcoming elections.

“As I said earlier, the main purpose of this meeting is to consult with political parties on the resumption of the CVR exercise. We look forward to a robust discussion that will improve the exercise believing, as we all do, that the register of voters is at the heart of credible elections,” he said.

Bringing the leadership of the political parties up to speed on the Anambra governorship, he said: “In respect of the Anambra State governorship election, all the 18 political parties have expressed interest to participate and have scheduled their primaries for the election in line with the dates provided for in the timetable released by the commission.

“In the case of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) council elections, political parties have concluded their primaries for the 68 constituencies made up of six council chairmen and 62 councillors. A total of 14 out of 18 political parties have nominated 110 candidates for chairmanship/deputy chairmanship positions and 362 candidates for councillorship.

“Altogether, 14 political parties have nominated 472 candidates to vie for 68 elective positions in the FCT. An info-graphic distribution of the nominations by area councils is included in your folders for this meeting.

“On this note, I would like to remind political parties about the recent letters written to you by the commission on the imperative of complying with the provisions of the law as well as our regulations governing the conduct of party primaries and nomination of candidates,” he said.

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