Edo Guber: No Extension of Dates for Primaries, INEC Tells Parties

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* Says deadline for primaries remains June 27

* Deadline for submission is 6pm June 29

By Chuks Okocha in Abuja

Amidst intra-party squabbles over the upcoming governorship primaries in Edo State, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Wednesday warned that there would not be any extension of dates for the exercise.

It also warned that 6pm on June 29 remains the deadline for all political parties participating in the Edo state governorship election to submit the names of their candidates.

The INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, gave the warning Wednesday during a meeting with security chiefs to adopt the security code of conduct for all security personnel covering the Edo state governorship election.

According to the INEC chairman, “Turning to the Edo Governorship election, all political parties interested in fielding candidates for the election are reminded that they must conclude their primaries for the nomination of candidates in the next ten (10) days.

“The deadline is Saturday 27th June 2020. I must stress that the date is firm and fixed. There will be no extension of the deadline. While the conduct of primaries and nomination of candidates will be the sole responsibility of political parties, our officials will monitor the primaries as required by law.

“Already, the Commission has published the date and mode of primaries for each of the fifteen (15) political parties that indicated their intention to participate in the election.”

Similarly, the INEC chairman said that there would be no extension of time for political parties that fail to submit the names and other details of the candidates that emerge from their primaries using the dedicated portal created by the Commission.

For emphasis, he said, “the deadline is 6:00pm on Monday 29th June 2020”

The commission had in a statement by the National Commissioner in charge of Voter Education and Information, Mr. Festus Okoye, INEC said 15 out of the 18 registered political parties had notified the commission of their intention to conduct primaries to pick their governorship candidates.

It added that by the timetable and schedule of activities issued by the commission on February 6, 2020, primaries for Edo State governorship election would take place between June 2 and 27.

Under the timeline, African Alliance (AA) would hold its primary between June 25 and 26 and the mode is indirect. AAC would hold its primary on June 25 and the mode is indirect. ADC would hold its own on June 27 and the mode of election is indirect primary.

ADP is expected to hold its primary on June 25, while the mode of the election is indirect.

APC would hold its governorship primary on June 22 and the mode of election is direct election, while the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) would conduct its primary on June 25, using the indirect system.

The APM would hold its primary on June 27 and the mode of election is indirect, while APP primary would take place on June 26 and the mode is also indirect.

PDP would hold its governorship primary election between June 19 and 20. Labour Party, NNPP, NRM, SDP, YPP and ZLP would conduct their primaries through indirect mode from June 14 to 27.

Speaking on the eligibility of candidates to contest the governorship, Prof. Yakubu said, “Arising from our experience in managing the nomination of candidates for the last two Governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi States, it is important to draw the attention of political parties to the four mandatory requirements for eligibility of candidates for Governorship elections enshrined in Section 177 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).

“A candidate nominated by a political party must be a Nigerian citizen by birth; must have attained the age of thirty-five (35) years; must be a member of, and sponsored by, a political party; and must be educated up to at least School Certificate level or equivalent.

“Adherence to these clear constitutional provisions is compulsory in order to avoid the unnecessary litigations that follow the nomination of candidates, some of which are still pending before the Courts.

“In fact, one of such cases involving the attempt to substitute an ineligible candidate by one of the political parties was determined only yesterday by the Supreme Court in favour of INEC.”, he stated.

On the security arrangements for the election, the INEC chairman said “As we approach the Governorship elections, the Commission and security agencies will play a critical role.

“We should remain proactive during the party primaries, electioneering campaigns, voting and eventual declaration of results. We must safeguard the process and protect all those involved as voters, INEC officials, observers, the media and even some of the unarmed security personnel deployed to the polling units. Doing so requires our professionalism and neutrality”