The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)on Tuesday in Abuja warned politicians and political parties against going about soliciting for electoral support, describing such action as illegal.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu disclosed this at a quarterly consultative meeting with the media held at the commission’s secretariat.
“Let me warn political parties and aspirants. We have not released the schedule of activities for the elections. Anything that anybody does is illegal before the law. They should wait for the timetable of the elections”, he cautioned.
Ekiti state Governor, Ayodele Fayose had last Thursday declared his intention to vie for the nation’s presidency in 2019, an action some INEC officials said was not in contravention of any known law.
Section 99 of the Electoral Act 201 (as amended), states that “For the purpose of this Act, the period of campaigning in public by every political party shall commence 90 days before polling day and end 24 hours prior to that day”. Such a person is liable, upon conviction to a maximum fine of N500, 000.
On the budget for the 2019 general elections, Yakubu said though the commission could not immediately place a figure on the budget, it was already working on it.
“As you are aware, we have concluded the strategic plan. We are now working on the Election Project Plan. Once we conclude the Election Project Plan, a number of things would follow among which is the election budget for the 2019 general elections which would be released next week. We are unable to give you a figure for now”, he said.
The commission also pledged its commitment to conducting free and fair elections in Anambra state saying, “election makes the difference between war and peace”.
He expressed the firm conviction that the election would not be inconclusive.
Yakubu appealed for calm, assuring that “elections in Anambra will be free and fair. There is no way it can be anything than free and fair. This is the irreducible minimum. This should be taken for granted on the part of the commission.
“For a very long time, Anambra election has not been concluded on the first ballot but we are determined to conclude Anambra election on the first ballot”.
He expressed delight at what he described as the peaceful nature of campaigns in the state, adding that though the state has produced a record number of 37 contestants, it was very unusual that the commission is not bogged down by court cases as a result of a political party presenting two candidates for the elections.
Yakubu further added that the commission has so far satisfactorily tested 5, 200 Smart Card Readers and would test the remaining 1, 000 this week.
While it would publish the Register of Voters on October 18, INEC said it would, however, take delivery of all printed Permanent Voter Cards PVCs for the Anambra election on October 15. “We want to start distributing at least 30 days before the elections so that anybody who has registered can get his or her card to the polls”, he promised.
On the issue of under-age voters in past elections, the INEC boss said the commission discovered that most of the so-called underage voters were actually standing in the queues for their aged parents or pregnant mothers.