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Remain Neutral While Monitoring Party Primaries, INEC Chairman Charges RECs

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu (right), National Commissioners May Agbamuche-Mbu (middle) and Kenneth Ukeagu (left) at the Commission's meeting with Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) held at INEC headquarters on Friday 22nd April 2022. PHOTO: ABIODUN AYODELE

By Nathaniel Gana

22nd April 2022

As political parties prepare to conduct primaries to nominate their respective candidates for the 2023 general election, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has admonished Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) to remain neutral while monitoring the primaries.

He made the call at the opening of the Commission’s Second Regular Quarterly Consultative meeting with the RECs, held at the Commission’s Headquarters, Abuja on Friday, 22nd April 2022.

Prof. Yakubu said: “As you are all aware, the Commission released the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 General Election a day after the Electoral Act 2022 was signed into law. The next activity under the Timetable is the conduct of party primaries by political parties”.

“So far, 14 parties have submitted their notices and schedule of primaries to the Commission. As required by law, the Commission shall monitor the primaries in the constituencies where the parties intend to field candidates. This means that the State offices will be heavily involved in the exercise. I urge you to exercise our monitoring responsibility with absolute neutrality. There are sanctions for violation of the law and you should know this and warn our staff accordingly”.

Prof. Yakubu used the opportunity to remind Political Parties of their obligation of maintaining a register of their members and sharing same with the Commission at least, 30 days before the conduct of the primaries.

His words: “Let me also seize this opportunity to remind political parties that by the provision of Section 77 of the Electoral Act 2022, each party is required to maintain a membership register in hard and soft copies and  make such register available to the Commission not later than 30 days before the date fixed for primaries, congresses and conventions.

“So far, only one political party has complied. It is a mandatory requirement of the law and all parties are required to comply. Doing otherwise is like going into an election without the register of voters. There can be no credible primary or general election without a credible register of voters.”

Prof. Yakubu also urged the RECs to get acquainted with the new Electoral Act 2022, since the conduct of 2023 general election will be guided by the Act. 

He continued; “a credible election is anchored on the law. As you are aware, the Electoral Act, together with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and our Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections, constitute the electoral legal framework for elections. As election managers, it is incumbent upon us to familiarise ourselves with the legal framework” .