The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has asked the 15 political parties interested in fielding candidates for the governorship election in Edo state to conclude their primaries for the nomination of candidates in the next 10 days.
The electoral body also stressed the need to safeguard the process and protect all those involved which include the voters, INEC officials, observers, the media and even some of the unarmed security personnel deployed to the polling units, calling for professionalism and neutrality.
Speaking during the second virtual meeting of the Inter-agency Consultative Committee on Election Security ICCES, Wednesday in Abuja chairman, INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, insisted that the deadline for the submission is Saturday 27 June, 2020 and stressed that the date is firm and fixed and there will be no extension of the deadline.
According to him, ‘’While the conduct of primaries and nomination of candidates will be the sole responsibility of political parties, our officials will monitor the primaries as required by law.
‘’Already, the Commission has published the date and mode of primaries for each of the 15 political parties that indicated their intention to participate in the election.’’
Similarly, the helmsman of the election umpire body said there will be no extension of time for political parties that fail to submit the names and other details of the candidates that emerge from their primaries using the dedicated portal created by the Commission.
‘’For emphasis, the deadline is 6:00pm on Monday 29 June, 2020. Arising from our experience in managing the nomination of candidates for the last two Governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states, it is important to draw the attention of political parties to the four mandatory requirements for eligibility of candidates for Governorship elections enshrined in Section 177 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
‘’A candidate nominated by a political party must be a Nigerian citizen by birth; must have attained the age of thirty-five (35) years; must be a member of, and sponsored by, a political party; and must be educated up to at least School Certificate level or equivalent.’’
He said adherence to these clear constitutional provisions is compulsory to avoid the unnecessary litigations that follow the nomination of candidates, some of which are still pending before the Courts.
Yakubu said one of such cases involving the attempt to substitute an ineligible candidate by one of the political parties was determined only yesterday by the Supreme Court in favour of INEC.
‘In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, we should also ensure compliance with the protective measures contained in the recently published commission’s policy as well as the advisory by health authorities.
”In the context of the current global health emergency, we have the additional responsibility to ensure the conduct of free, fair, credible and safe elections,” he added.
He recalled that during the last meeting held on Friday 5 June, 2020, ”we agreed that the co-chairmen of ICCES (i.e. the chairman INEC and the National Security Adviser) should prepare and circulate a draft Code of Conduct for security personnel on election duty based on the report of the Special Committee earlier set up to ensure collaboration and synergy in the deployment of security agencies for elections.”
He said the meeting also mandated the co-chairmen to take into consideration safety measures for security personnel in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
”The draft policy has already been circulated for consideration and approval at this meeting. Thereafter, the policy will become part of the manual for the training of security personnel and guide their conduct during elections. The policy will be published for public information,’’ he added.
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