Ahead of the 2023 general election, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has cautioned its personnel across the nation not to be biased and apolitical or risk being punished.
The commission’s Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, warned during the second regular quarterly consultative meeting with Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja on Friday.
In the coming weeks, political parties will begin their primary elections for the offices of the president, governors, and other various positions in the forthcoming general polls.
“As required by law, the commission shall monitor the primaries in the constituencies where the parties intend to field candidates. This means that the State offices will be heavily involved in the exercise.
“I urge you to exercise our monitoring responsibility with absolute neutrality. There are sanctions for violation of the law, and you should know this and warn our staff accordingly, ” Yakubu said
He stated that a day after the Electoral Act 2022 was signed into law, the commission released the timetable and schedule of activities for the 2023 general elections. The electoral umpire chair added that the next activity under the timetable was the conduct of party primaries by political parties.
He revealed that so far, 14 parties have submitted their notices and schedule of primaries to the commission.
He further clarified that in Section 77 of the Electoral Act, political parties were required to maintain a membership register in hard and soft copy and to make such record available to INEC not later than 30 days before the date fixed for primaries congresses, and conventions.
“So far, only one political party has complied,” he said. “It is a mandatory requirement of the law, and all parties must comply.
“Doing otherwise is like going into an election without voters’ register. There can be no credible primary or general election without a credible register of voters,” Yakubu Stressed.
In a related development, the Commission has vowed that despite the security challenges in the country, it will continue to prepare for forthcoming General Elections, declaring that the exercise must hold.