The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has warned parties participating in the Ekiti and Osun Governorship elections as well as scheduled bye-elections against presenting unqualified candidates.
Any party that flouts the order will be liable to a fine of N500, 000, the electoral umpire cautioned.
A statement by National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee Festus Okoye, said: “Political parties that present to the Commission the name of a candidate who does not meet the qualifications stipulated in the Constitution and the Electoral Act shall be guilty of an offence and on conviction shall be liable to a maximum fine of N500,000”.
The Commission also informed that all pending bye-elections comprising Akure North/Akure South Federal Constituency, Ondo State, Jos North/Bassa Federal Constituency, Plateau State, Pankshin South State Constituency, Plateau State, Ogoja/Yala Federal Constituency, Cross River State, Akpabuyo State Constituency, Cross River State and Ngor-Okpala State Constituency, Imo State, will hold on February 26 while Ekiti East 1 State Constituency election will hold the same day with governorship election on the 18th of June.
The statement added: “Following the declaration of vacancies by Speaker of the House of Representatives and Speakers of some State Houses of Assembly, the Commission has scheduled bye-elections for six constituencies in 4 States as follows:
“The elections will hold on Saturday 26th February 2022 immediately after the FCT Area Council elections. This will enable the Commission to clear most of the bye-elections, focus on the Ekiti and Osun Governorship elections and ongoing preparations for the 2023 General Election.
“Some of the vacancies arose as a result of the death of the previous occupants; substantial disruption of the electoral process and fulfilment of constitutional and legal requirements in the electoral process”.
It added: “The Commission considered the issues that led to the vacancies and the rescheduling of some of the elections as well as the security situation in some of the States. The Commission decided to combine the Ekiti East 1 State Constituency election with the Governorship election in Ekiti, which will hold on 18th June 2022.
“The Commission is consulting with security agencies and the critical stakeholders relating to the vacancy in Shinkafi State Constituency of Zamfara State while the Speaker of the Kaduna State House of Assembly has not declared a vacancy in relation to Giwa State Constituency of Kaduna State.
“The official notification for the elections will be published on Monday 24th January 2022. Political Parties shall conduct their primaries including resolution of disputes arising from the primaries between 26th January and 5th February 2022 while the last day for submission of list of nominated candidates is at 6pm on the 9th February 2022 and this must be done through the Commission’s online nomination portal.
“The Access Code for the nomination forms shall be available for collection from 5th February 2022 at the Commission’s headquarters.
“Political parties fielding candidates for the bye-elections must comply with the activities and timelines set out in the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the conduct of the bye-election and conduct transparent and valid direct or indirect primaries in accordance with the dictates of sections 85 and 87 of the Electoral Act 2010 [As amended].
“Political parties must note that the aspirant with the highest number of votes at the end of voting shall be declared the winner of the primary of the party and the aspirant’s name shall be forwarded to the Commission as the candidate of the party”.
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