OBIORA IFOH, Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said one only political party and a presidential candidate submitted audited returns of their election expenses four months after the 2019 general elections.
This is against section 92(3)(a) of the Electoral Act, which requires political parties to submit audited returns of their election expenses within six months after an election.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahamood Yakubu, at a meeting with the leader of political parties to review the 2019 general elections, said though the party leaders were within the time frame, they are under obligations under the law to submit their financial report.
Prof. Yakubu also stated no political party has complied with section 93(4) of the Electoral Act that requires political parties to disclose material contributions received from individuals and corporate bodies within three months after the announcement of the results of the general election.
He stated that the purpose of the meeting was to review the conduct of the 2019 general elections in order to identify successes, challenges and the way forward, adding that INEC has promised the nation that it would undertake a national conversation on the future of the electoral process.
“Having concluded our in-house review, today marks the beginning of our consultation with stakeholders.
“This is therefore an auspicious to, first of all, hear from those who actually fielded candidates for 1, 558 constituencies in which elections were held in 2019 and deployed agents to 119, 973 polling units as well as the various levels of collation of results and declaration of winners nationwide,” he added.
The INEC Chairman noted that previous reforms at the electoral process identified the need to re-examine the responsibilities of the commission, the roles and responsibilities of the security agencies during elections, the imperative of internal democracy within political parties, voter inducement among others.
He told the party leaders that the conduct of party primaries and nomination of candidates for the 2019 general elections was acrimonious resulting in a number of court cases.
“This has made the management of electoral logistics and post-election litigations more challenging to the commission.
“At the moment, there are 809 cases challenging the conduct of primaries by political parties in regular courts across the country.
“This figure is more than the number of petitions challenging the conduct of the main election currently before the election tribunal nationwide,” he added.
He called on the party leaders to build their capacities for internal democracy, voter mobilisation and financial procedures, and assured them that INEC would continue to work with the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) as enshrined in the Code of Conduct for political parties.
Prof. Yakubu disclosed that only three political parties have given the commission notices on the conduct for both Bsyelsa and Kogi governorship elections, and urged party leaders to indicate not only the dates but also venues and time for the primaries.
“I urge you to avoid persistent rescheduling of your primaries or late minute change of venue which sometimes disenfranchise your members and make effective monitoring by the commission difficult.
“Where political parties opt for direct primaries, there should be proper register of members otherwise it will amount to conducting an election without the voters’ register.
“The conduct of primaries and nomination of candidates must be transparent and democratic in accordance with the provisions of Sec. 87 of the Electoral Act as well as our regulations and guidelines.
“The commission expects strict compliance by all parties that wish to nominate candidates for the elections.
“No nomination arising from primaries conducted after the deadline will be accepted by the Commission,” further warned.
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