THE Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it will not extend the deadline for the conduct of primaries and submission of nominations by parties for the September 19 governorship election in Edo State.
At the second virtual consultative meeting of the Inter-agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES), on Wednesday in Abuja, the chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu reminded parties fielding candidates of the need to conclude their primaries for the nomination of candidates in the next 10 days.
He said: “The deadline is Saturday, June 27, 2020; that the date is firm and fixed. There will be no extension.
“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, INEC 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, 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.
“The deadline is 6 p.m on Monday, 29 June 2020.”
He advised the parties to adhere to the mandatory requirements for eligibility of candidates for governorship elections as stated in Section 177 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
Yakubu said that a candidate nominated by a party must be a Nigerian citizen by birth, 35 years, a member of, and sponsored by, a political party, and must be educated up to at least School Certificate level or equivalent.
He said that the advice was crucial in view of INEC’s experience in managing the nomination of candidates for the governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states.
He stressed that adherence to provisions is non-negotiable “in order to avoid litigation that follow the nomination of candidates, some of which are still pending before the courts.
“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.
“We must safeguard the process and protect all those involved – voters, INEC officials, observers, media and even unarmed security personnel deployed to the polling units.Doing so requires professionalism and neutrality.
“In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, we should also ensure compliance with the protective measures contained in the Commission’s policy as well as the advisory by health authorities.
“We have the additional responsibility to ensure the conduct of free, fair, credible and safe elections.”
Yakubu recalled that the last ICCES meeting, “mandated the co-chairmen of ICCES 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 and thereafter the policy will become part of the manual for training of security personnel and to guide their conduct during elections. The policy will be published for public information.”
The Co-Chairman of ICCES and National Security Adviser (NSA), retired Major-General Babagana Monguno, commended INEC for the setup of the sub-committee to review the existing policy on election security to address challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports, Monguno expressed confidence that the reviewed policy, when adopted and put into use, would further secure the electoral space for peaceful elections in the country.