Be neutral or get punished, INEC warns officials ahead of party primaries

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has warned its personnel across the country to remain unbiased and apolitical or risk being punished.

INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, gave the warning on Friday at the second regular quarterly consultative meeting with Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja.

His warning comes ahead of the primary elections by various political parties to elect their candidates for the offices of the president, governors, and other various positions in the coming general polls.

“As required by law, the commission shall monitor the primaries in the constituencies where the parties intend to field candidates,” Yakubu informed the RECs. “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.”

The INEC chief briefed that the electoral umpire had released the timetable and schedule of activities for the 2023 general elections a day after the Electoral Act, 2022 was signed into law.

He stated that the next activity under the timetable was the conduct of party primaries by political parties, saying 14 parties have so far submitted their notices and schedule of primaries to the commission.

Yakubu also explained that by the provision of Section 77 of the Electoral Act, political parties were required to maintain a membership register in hard and soft copy, and to make such register 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 are required to comply.

“Doing otherwise is like going into an election without the register of voters. There can be no credible primary or general election without a credible register of voters.”(Channels TV)

•PHOTO: Professor Mahmood Yakubu