You must submit your voters register ahead of primaries, INEC tells political parties

Ahead of Edo and Ondo State governorship elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has advised political parties to inform the INEC on the mode of primary it wants to adopt and submit the list of its registered members ahead of the exercise.

National chairman of the Commission, Professor Mahmoud Yakubu gave the condition on Monday at the first virtual consultative meeting with leaders of political parties.

The ruling party has since adopted direct primary for its standard-bearer to emerge in a primary fixed for June 22.

Professor Yakubu told the party leaders who have adopted direct primaries to present to the INEC list of the register of members to be used for the election from Ward to Local Government and State levels.

For indirect primaries, the parties must also avail INEC the delegates list ahead of the election.

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Professor Yakubu cautioned the political parties against violence and thuggery as he insisted that the primaries must be rancour-free to promote internal democracy in the political parties.

He said: “Based on experience, it is also important to draw your attention to the necessity for rancour-free primaries.

Party primaries form the foundation for the secondary election conducted by the INEC. You must, therefore, avoid acts of thuggery, brigandage, vote-buying and other sundry violations of the Electoral Act.

As we monitor the conduct of party primaries, we will pay particular attention to your compliance with the law and consider sanctions so that the unruly behaviour of some party supporters is not carried forward to the main election.

At the same time, I wish to appeal to political parties that opt for direct primaries to avail us with the register of members to be used for the election from Ward to Local Government and State levels for the effective discharge of our monitoring responsibilities under the law.

Those that opt for indirect primaries should similarly make available to INEC the list of delegates for the election.

Doing otherwise will amount to going into an election without the voters’ register INEC makes available to each political party the complete register of voters before every major election. We expect political parties to reciprocate for their primaries.”

The INEC chairman further revealed that political parties must henceforth submit a nomination of their candidates in the forthcoming election online, through a dedicated portal.  He declared that political parties that fail to meet the deadline given for submission of nomination will not be eligible to field candidates for Edo and Ondo governorship elections.

“Party primaries for the nomination of candidates for the Edo governorship election begins tomorrow.

Already, some political parties have invited INEC to monitor their primaries which must be conducted from 2nd to 27th June 2020.

This time around, the submission of nomination forms will be done online for which a dedicated portal has been set up. Let me, therefore, warn political parties that intend to field candidates for the election to strictly adhere to these dates as well as the new online procedure for filing of nominations.

Any party that operates outside these dates will only have itself to blame. The portal will automatically shut down on the scheduled date and at the fixed hour. The Legal Department and ICT will brief this meeting on the new procedure.”

In its remarks, interim Chairman, Inter-Party Advisory Council, Dr Leonard Ezenwa, commended INEC for its new policy guidelines for the conduct of elections in the face of the pandemic. IPAC also applauded the Commission for its initiative to experiment with electronic voting with effect from next year.

” The parties are also excited that INEC has opted to take the bull by the horn to deepen the use of technology in the electoral process with its planned introduction of an electronic voting machine in the 2021 polls on a pilot scheme. The body of political parties has long canvassed for the full introduction of electronic voting in all elections and restate that it is a welcome development.”

The political parties equally urged “INEC to ensure that minimal discomfort is imposed on voters and other stakeholders in its quest to ensure that the nation has a credible and acceptable poll during the Edo, Ondo and other bye-elections that it planned to hold in the weeks and months ahead as we look forward to a win-win for all stakeholders.”

NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

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