INEC pledges to sanction erring political parties, election defaulters

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it will sanction any political party, individual or corporate organisation that commits electoral offence during the 2019 general elections.

Francis Ezeonu, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Imo, said this at a sensitisation meeting of stakeholders with Imo INEC management on Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) held in Mbaitoli and Owerri North local government areas.

Mr Ezeonu said Section 94 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) stipulated guidelines for the conduct of primaries, electoral campaigns by political parties and behaviours of party faithful and stakeholders during elections.

He added that the same Electoral Act frowned at imposition of candidates, use of masquerades and any form of weapon, hate speeches, as well as campaigning in churches, mosques and public offices.

“We will monitor political parties to avoid anarchy. If after primaries anyone is denied his/her position, INEC will not be party to it and will intervene. It will also sanction defaulting party.

“The guideline is also against the use of thugs, private militia and vanguards on campaign grounds.”

The REC said the commission would use Resident Area Camp (RAC) to ensure that election materias were deployed to polling units on time.

He urged stakeholders to cooperate with the commission by creating an enabling environment to deploy the RACs, as well as provide security at RAC areas so that INEC’s property would not be vandalised.

The Electoral Officer (EO) in Mbaitoli Local Government Area, Ngozi Odilinye, said the forum was special as it offered political parties, town unions, women and youth leaders, and other stakeholders opportunity to interact with one another and with INEC management in Imo.

She said the local government area registered 122,555 voters during the 2014/2015 registration, adding that till date, 22,333 Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) were yet to be collected.

Ms Odilinye noted that the commission had since April 2017, embarked on nationwide CVR, including the correction of wrong particulars of voters, reprinting of omitted voter cards, lost and defaced cards and processing of voters’ data for inter and intra state transfer.

Former Chairman of Federal Electoral Panel, Donatus Agogbuo, said money politics was no longer in vogue and urged INEC to ensure the implementation of its promises to restore sanity to the electoral system.

The electoral stakeholders had complained of registration of more parties by the commission and the siting of INEC offices in local councils.

They appealed to INEC to ensure credible election that would help in restoring sanity in Nigeria as it relates to election.

Samuel Ohiri, a traditional ruler in Mbaitoli and Chairman, Imo Traditional Rulers, commended INEC for the sensitisation, saying it was the first of its kind in the history of Imo.

He, however, expressed regret that there was high level of voter apathy in Imo, especially among youths, stressing the need for positive change of attitude.

Participants at the meeting included traditional rulers of the various communities, party faithful, women, youth and town union leaders and the clergy.

Posted by Juliet Ekwebelam (Premium Times)