The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has threatened to backlist any political party, whose congress or convention degenerates into violence and destruction of property, from the receipt of INEC materials for their activities in the future.
Also, the Commission said it will withdraw its staff from monitoring such violent political party meetings, with the resultant non-recognition of their outcomes.
Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, in a statement, decried the recurrent acrimony, violence and destruction of property, including that of the Commission, which have characterised some political party congresses across the country.
Okoye noted that the level of violence in some of the congresses is making it extremely difficult for INEC to exercise its statutory oversight responsibility enshrined in Sections 85 and 87 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended). “In one such congress in Kaduna recently, violence broke out, leading to the destruction of the Commission’s ballot boxes,” he stated.
The National Commissioner reminded the parties that they have the “obligation to ensure that their congresses and conventions are orderly, democratic and in accordance with extant legal framework, their own constitutions and guidelines, as well as INEC’s regulations and guidelines.”
He warned that the Commission will not stand and watch party conventions and congresses degenerate into farcical rituals and violent fiascos that threaten lives and destroy property.
“For the avoidance of doubt, INEC will, henceforth, reconsider its involvement in these events, should they continue to put lives of members of the public and staff of the commission at risk,” he warned.
Okoye advised the parties to stick to their respective timetable and schedule of activities for the forthcoming primaries to select their candidates for upcoming elections and bye-elections, particularly those for the Anambra State governorship election and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Area Council elections.
“Parties must ensure that their primaries are peaceful and orderly. Above all, they must adhere strictly to the Electoral Act, INEC Regulations and Guidelines, as well as party constitutions and rules, which are domiciled with the commission,” he said.
Okoye said parties’ internal processes must be open and fair, noting that the acrimony and violence that characterise parties’ congresses are the result of suits in various courts.
“Still, the Commission will continue to work with political parties in support of their internal functioning in order to build strong and democratic parties in Nigeria,” he assured.