Ahead of the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States as well as future elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has announced that only national party chairmen will allow to submit candidates’ names to commission.
INEC who warned the 91 political parties on Friday, December 27, that it will not receive communication from any organ of the party, except the chairman and the National Executive Council of the party.
The Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahood Yakubu, said this during a meeting with party chairmen in Abuja on Friday.
He said in the past, state chapters and the national body of parties would send different names of political candidates for the same office.
Yakubu, however, said the Supreme Court had ruled that the national body of a political party was the one charged with the duty of communicating with INEC.
The INEC boss said, “The supremacy of the National Executive Council to inform the commission of dates, venues and membership of committees to handle the conduct of primaries is key. The Supreme Court has ruled that only NEC can submit the list of candidates to INEC.
“We will not accept nomination or even invitation for the conduct of primaries from the branches. It is only the national executive of political parties that can contact us. It has happened before and it led to serious litigation.
“The chairmen should stand firm. Only you can submit the names of candidates for election and only you can advise the commission on when you will conduct primaries. Otherwise, we will end up with conflicting information.”
Yakubu urged the party chairmen to ensure that primaries were free and fair, adding that the number of electoral cases in court were too many.
The INEC boss said some court cases which emanated from the conduct of 2014 primaries were still in court, adding that the many cases in court were draining the resources of the commission.
He said, “Litigation arising from party primaries are of a pre-election nature and are thus not time bound unlike post-election cases which are time bound- 180 days at the tribunal, 60 days at the Appeal Court and 60 days at the Supreme Court.
“Today, we are still grappling with litigation cases that arose from primaries that held in December 2014. Only two months ago, the commission issued a certificate of return to a candidate that was declared winner of a party primary of 2014.”
On the large number of political parties that would participate in the 2019 general elections, the INEC boss said if all the parties fielded candidates for all the positions, at least 144,000 persons would participate in the polls.
He advised parties not to change venues and dates of primaries arbitrarily as this would lead to waste of resources of the commission.
Yakubu added, “We need your support because for the first time, we have 91 political parties contesting in the 2019 elections. What is the implication? We are going to conduct elections into 1, 558 constituencies nationwide.
“That is one Presidential constituency, 29 governorship elections because elections in seven states are now staggered. We have 109 senatorial districts, 360 federal constituencies, 991 state constituencies and 68 area councils in the FCT which translates to 1, 558 offices.
“Assuming that all 91 parties field candidates for all the elections, we will process nomination forms for over 144,000 candidates within a very short period of time. So, we need to work closely with the political parties to meet our deadlines.”