- Â Says 24 parties unable to account for 2015 campaign funds
Onyebuchi Ezigbo and Cynthia Ndukwu in Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has slammed the leadership of political parties in the country for violating some key aspects of the Electoral Act.
Speaking at a quarterly consultative meeting with political parties wednesday, INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, warned the parties and members against embarking on campaigns outside the stipulated time frame.
He told the party leaders that INEC is yet to issue timetable for the commencement of electioneering and as such, they should help caution their members not to jump the gun.
While assuring them of the commissionâ€™s willingness to register more parties, Yakubu berated some of the existing ones who he said have committed several infractions to the electoral law.
Commenting on the failure of many parties to submit the 2015 general election expenses to the commission, he said: â€œParties are expected to submit to the commission their election campaign expenses for the 2015 general election but as we speak only five political parties are in compliance.
â€œWhile 24 other political parties did not comply, the case of 17 parties is understandable because they are registered after the general elections. But for parties that contested the general elections, only five complied,â€ he lamented.
Speaking further, Yakubu said: â€œWe have written to the political parties urging them to inform the commission if there are issues. But parties as entities must comply with the constitution and the Electoral Act, which are actually the basis for their registration and existence.
â€œAs I speak with you, the commission has over 108 political associations seeking fresh registration. We want to assure all the associations that the commission will register those that met the legal requirements. They should not take that for granted on the commission.
â€œBut for those that have already been registered, I want to draw your attention to certain issues. The constitution is very clear on the processes and conditions for registration that must be complied. Section 223 of the constitution talks about the validity of the composition of the political parties NEC.
â€œUnfortunately, out of the 46 registered political parties, only 28 parties are in compliance. 18 political parties have not complied.
â€œSection 222 of the constitution requires political parties to establish offices in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) but as we speak today, only 29 political parties are in compliance while 17 political parties have not. So 17 political parties have no offices in FCT or their rents have expired which amounts to the same thing of not having office in FCT,â€ he said.
Just like he stated yesterday, Yakubu charged all the political parties that although INEC has fixed a date for the general election, it was yet to release the time table for the election, adding that they should try to abide by the law.
â€œThe law is very clear on when campaigns will commence. It remains 90 days to the election and must stop 24 hours to the actual casting of ballot.
â€œHowever, we have noticed that some people using the name of some political parties are already in campaign mood. Since there is no provision for any Nigerian to contest election as an independent candidate for now and since every candidate must be sponsored by a political party, we expect everybody to comply with electoral rules.
â€œIt is true that no political party has openly declared campaign for 2019 general election but the parties owe it a duty to obey the laws of the land. INEC is yet to issue timetable for the commencement of campaign and we expect all political parties to comply,â€ he warned.â€
Meanwhile, INEC yesterday issued the timetable and schedule of activities for the bye election in Kware/Wamakko federal constituency in Sokoto State.
According to the timetable, political parties are required to conclude their primary election on or before October 14, 2017. The date of the by-elections is scheduled for October 28, 2017.
The commission asked parties to submit the names of party agents to electoral officers on October 20.
It further stated that submission of nomination forms at the headquarters would end on October 17, adding that election notice would be placed in the constituency on October 6, while campaign was scheduled to end on October 26, 2017.