INEC: We Are Privy to Provisions of the Electoral Amendment Bill

  • Says it’s yet to be served Supreme Court judgement on Rivers APC

By Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday said it was privy to the provisions of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill passed by the National Assembly earlier in the week.

The commission stated categorically that many of the new provisions in the bill were based on recommendations of the commission.

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu disclosed this in Abuja while briefing journalists on the preparations of the electoral body ahead of the 2019 elections.

He stated: “Over the last three years, we worked very closely with the National Assembly on improving the legal framework for the conduct of elections, both constitutional and the Electoral Act.”

“In our discussions with the National Assembly, we have been privy to some of the provisions in the draft bills and we took a proactive step.”

“If tomorrow, the bill is assented to, there are provisions that we can easily implement and there are provisions we can’t implement because of time.”

Yakubu noted that the full implementation of electronic voting would be impossible due to the short time frame to the 2019 general elections.

The commission also revealed that it was yet to be served the full text of the Supreme Court judgment on the congresses held in River State by the All Progressive Congress (APC) for it to study the details and know what appropriate action to take.

The Supreme Court had on Monday descended on the Port Harcourt Division of the Court of Appeal for granting an application in favour of the APC in respect of the conduct of the party’s congresses in Rivers State.

A five-man panel of the Supreme Court, in its unanimous judgment, held that the Court of Appeal committed “a sacrilegious exercise of discretion” by favouring the APC in its June 21, 2018 judgment despite the party’s decision to conduct its congresses in Rivers State in disobedience of subsisting orders of the court.

The apex court described the conduct of the party’s ward, local government and state congresses of May 19, 20 and 21, 2018, respectively, in Rivers State, in violation of a pending court order, as “condemnable, egregious and preposterous.”

The INEC boss also revealed that 79 presidential candidates have been cleared to contest 2019 elections.

He added that while 1,856 candidates are vying for Senatorial seats, 4,496 are vying for House of Representatives seats.

He said that governorship elections would be held in 29 States, while State Assembly elections would be conducted in 991 state constituencies.

The chairman also insisted that the electoral body did not receive any list of candidates from APC for Zamfara state.

He said that the personal particulars of those contesting in Governorship and State Assembly elections would be published on 9th  November 2018, one week after the close of submission of nominations by political parties..

On the suspended Port Harcourt state constituency election, Yakubu said that it would engage the stakeholders before picking a date for another election.

The commission pledged that no part of Nigeria would be left unrepresented, but said there was need to address the issues that led to the commission invoking its powers under section 26 of the electoral Act to suspend the election.

Yakubu also stressed further that the register of voters for each polling unit would be displayed at the polling units nationwide for one week from 6th – 12th November 2018 for claims and objections by citizens in accordance  with the provision of Section 20 of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended.

On INEC budget, he said there was no discrepancies between what the commission submitted and the N189.2 billion that was passed by the National Assembly.

He said: “We had some discussion with the Ministry of Finance on the disbursement of funds for the elections and we are confident that we are not going to suffer any encumbrances in that respect. We are not going to suffer any difficulty in the 2019 elections.”