• Rules PDP, APC out of Anambra Senate rerun poll
•Campaigns for governorship poll begin August 18
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said the number of registered voters in the country as at yesterday was 70 million.
Out of this number, the commission said 7.8 million registered voters were yet to come forward to collect their Permanent Voter Cards ((PVCs) despite efforts to distribute them.
INEC also said it was working to review the country’s voters’ register before the 2019 general election.
Speaking at an interactive session with the journalists yesterday, the Chairman of the INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said from the commission’s record, a total of 70 million voters have so far been registered.
He said the figures might still go up by the time the commission concludes its scheduled voter registration exercise.
However, the INEC boss said:
“With 70 million registered voters at the moment, and by the time we do the Continuous Voter Register (CVR) fixed for April, the number’s will definitely go higher, our is the second largest democracy in the world,” he said.
Yakubu said there were already two committees working on the issue of delimitation and creation of more Polling Units (PUs) across the country, to ensure an easy voting process.
The INEC boss expressed hope that the committees would submit their reports next week for INEC consideration.
He said the commission was also working on a modality that would assist it in the distribution of uncollected 7.8 million PVCs during the nationwide CVR slated for April.
On monitoring of parties finance and campaign funds, Yakubu said only two political parties had so far complied with the law that required them to submit their financial details to the commission six months after an election.
He listed three audit reports expected from political parties to include their annual finance report, campaign expenditure; as well as donations received within three months of receiving such
Following concerns about the continued stalemate on conduct of outstanding re-run election for the Anambra Central senatorial, the commission said that it would stand by its position not to allow either the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) or All Progressives Congress (APC) to field a fresh candidate in the re-run election.
On the outstanding re-run election for the Anambra Central senatorial seat, the INEC Chairman said the commission is maintaining its position not to allow the PDP and APC to field candidates for the election.
He explained that following a legal precedence where a party whose candidate was disqualified by the court and as such both the candidate and his partywere barred from participating in the re-run election.
He further said the commission had expected to adopt the template to organise the court-ordered re-run election in Anambra but that it was dragged before the court by the two affected parties thereby putting a wedge on the process.
According to Yakubu, “ Where an election is conducted but nullified by the court on the account of a candidate’s disqualification, the disqualified candidate cannot participate in the re- run election and the party of the disqualified candidate cannot sponsor another candidate for the re- run election simply because the period of nomination of candidates is over. Again, a candidate cannot be replaced because the grace period is 40 days from the last election.”
He said in line with the position of the law, the time for the nomination, withdrawal or substitution of candidates for the court-ordered election in Anambra Central senatorial district has elapsed.
Yakubu noted that as it stands, APC can only participate in the rerun if its candidate, Senator Chris Ngige, decides to contest.
As for PDP, he said the party has been completely knocked out of the race by the December 7, 2015 verdict of the Enugu Court of Appeal whose judgment had been duly affirmed by the Supreme Court.
He said the commission had appealed to the two parties to understand its position and withdraw their cases in court so that the election can be held.
“What they are saying is that they should be allowed to field fresh candidates for the senatorial election but we felt that this is not right because there cannot be separate rules for the Anambra election”
Meanwhile, INEC has said political parties and candidates for the governorship election in Anambra State are to commence their campaigns by August 18 this year.
Similarly, the commission said the deadline for the conduct of governorship primaries, including the resolution of disputes would be between July 22 and September 2.
While giving further update on the conduct of the governorship election in Anambra State, INEC said it has scheduled the last day of submission of names of candidates by the party will be September 18.
In a statement issued by the Secretary to the commission, publication of final list of governorship candidates will be on October 19 and subsequently the election proper will take place on Sarurday, November 18.