INEC insists on issues-based, violence-free campaigns
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has vowed to sanction any political party that violates any section of the Electoral Act, saying that it has put machinery in motion to strictly monitor compliance by all parties.
Speaking during the second Stakeholders Consultative meeting with the chairmen and secretaries of the 37 parties participating in the 2019 election in Ebonyi State at the commission’s pavilion in Abakaliki, the state’s Resident Electoral Commissioner, Prof. Godswill Obioma, said: “It is our duty to advise all active players engaged or to be engaged in this segment of electioneering process to carry on with issue-based political campaigns.”
He warned that contestants and political parties should avoid campaign of calumny, hate and divisiveness, stressing that all manner of hate speeches should be avoided as that could only lead to violence and undue heating up of the polity.
“We hereby draw your attention to Sections 94 through 102 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and Article 3 of the Political Parties’ Code of Conduct 2013, that Political Parties, their candidates, officials and agents are expected to conduct their political campaigns within the ambit of the law,” he stated.
While urging the parties to work towards ensuring an environment conducive for successful, peaceful, free and fair election campaigns, the REC reminded political parties that to take all necessary steps to coordinate their campaign activities in such a manner as to avoid holding rallies, meetings, marches or demonstrations close to one another at the same time.
He reiterated that it is incumbent on party leaders, their candidates and supporters to conduct themselves in an orderly manner during political campaigns to ensure there is no breakdown of law and order, before, during and after political campaign activities.
The commissioner declared: “Political parties are advised to avoid violence-prone campaigns laced with hate tendencies, or capable of fanning the embers of disunity, chaos, extremism and bigotry.
Political parties are also warned to adhere to laydown procedures, laws, rules, and regulations guiding political campaigns, and also refrain from use of political thugs to disrupt campaign programmes of vival political parties.”
The commission pledged its commitment to monitor political parties to ensure that they do not violate the provisions of the electoral law on its campaign spending, stating that it would not hesitate to punish any breach.
“The monitoring exercise is geared towards preparing reports on the conduct of political parties during the campaigns, as well as highlighting infractions against the relevant statutory provisions of the law,” he stated.
Expressing worries by the large number of unclaimed Permanent Voter Cards in the state, the commission called for partnership with political parties in mobilizing the electorate in the state to come forward and claim their PVCs in their various wards and Registration Areas.
While urging the National Orientation Agency (NOA) to help in mobilizing the people to claim their PVCs, the commission further called for partnership with political parties to end the ugly monster of vote-buying and selling which it reiterated was a dreaded virus that critically corrupts the electoral process.
“All hands must be on deck to kill this menacing virus before it destroys good governance, national development and quality leadership, as willingly chosen by the citizens amongst other global practice attributes that define our national ethos,” the REC stated.