Chuks Okocha in Abuja
Amidst squabbles by political parties over the election of their gubernatorial candidates for the September 22 governorship election in Edo State, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) wednesday warned it will not extend the deadline within which all political parties must hold their primaries.
It also warned that 6p.m. on June 29 remains the deadline for all political parties participating in the Edo State governorship election to submit the names of their candidates.
INEC’s Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, gave the warnings yesterday during a meeting with security chiefs to adopt the security code of conduct for all security personnel covering the governorship election.
He said: “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 10 days.
“The deadline is Saturday, June 27, 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 15 political parties that indicated their intention to participate in the election.”
He added that there will 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.
On the eligibility of candidates to contest the governorship, 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 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.
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 in the polling units. Doing so requires our professionalism and neutrality.”
The commission had said 15 out of the 18 registered political parties had 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, primaries for Edo State governorship election would take place between June 2 and 27.