The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has warned that any political party that presents a candidate that does not meet the qualifications stipulated in the Constitution and the Electoral Act would be guilty of an offence and on conviction, liable to a fine of N500,000.
A statement signed by the national commissioner and chairman, information and voter education committee, Barrister Festus Okoye, made available to LEADERSHIP Sunday yesterday also stressed its preparedness for the Area Council elections in the Federal Capital Territory holding on Saturday, February 12, 2022 as well as other outstanding elections for the year 2022 after its review meeting.
INEC noted that it was finalising all arrangements for the election, adding that Permanent Voters Cards for all new registrants as well as requests for transfers and replacement of damaged cards had been printed and are available in all the six area councils for collection.
The commission appealed to citizens who applied for fresh registration as well as transfers and replacement of the PVCs to do so immediately and avoid last last-minute rush for the cards like in the past.
It said the FCT was the only part of Nigeria where INEC conducts local government elections and a total of 475 candidates sponsored by all the 18 political parties are vying for the 68 constituencies involving six area council chairmen and 62 councilors.
The statement added that in keeping with its tradition of engaging with stakeholders, the commission had arranged to meet political parties on Tuesday, January 18, civil society organisations on Wednesday, January 19, Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) on Thursday, January 20 and media organisations on Friday, January 21, 2022.
The statement noted that all pending by-elections for six constituencies in four states would hold on Saturday, February 26, 2022 immediately after the FCT Area Council elections to enable the commission focus on the Ekiti and Osun governorship elections and ongoing preparations for the 2023 general elections.
The commission said it decided to combine the Ekiti East 1 state constituency election with the governorship election in Ekiti on June 18, 2022 saying that it was consulting with security agencies and critical stakeholders relating to the vacancy in Shinkafi State Constituency of Zamfara State while the speaker of the Kaduna State House of Assembly is yet to declare vacancy in relation to Giwa State Constituency of Kaduna State.
It cautioned political parties fielding candidates for the by-elections to comply with the activities and timelines set out in the timetable and schedule of activities for the conduct of the by-election and conduct transparent and valid direct or indirect primaries in accordance with the dictates of sections 85 and 87 of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended.
“Political parties must conduct their primaries including resolution of disputes arising from the primaries between 26 January and 5th February 2022 while the last day for submission of list of nominated candidates is 6 pm on the ninth of February which must be done through the Commission’s online nomination portal,” it said.
It, however, reminded political parties that the aspirant with the highest number of votes at the end of voting shall be declared the winner of the primary of the party and the aspirant’s name shall be forwarded to the Commission as the candidate of the party.