Comply with election timetable, INE’C warns Tinubu, Atiku, others
Fixes February 25 for Presidential / NASS election, March 11 for Governorship / State Assembly polls
By Joshua Omoloye, Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has warned presidential aspirants of various political parties to strictly comply with timetable and schedule of activities released for the 2023 general election or face serious sanction.
Chairman of INEC, Prof Mahmood Yakubu sound the note of warning on Saturday while fielding questions from journalists after announcing the 2023 election timetable at a special press conference held at the Commission’s headquarters, Abuja.
He said political parties whose aspirants commence campaign activities ahead of scheduled date risk disqualification.
Yakubu said ” I wish to remind stakeholders, especially the political parties, of their responsibility to adhere strictly to the timelines in this Timetable and Schedule of Activities, as well as all other timelines established by the Commission.
Recall that the political turf is already agog with consultations across nooks and crannies of the country by presidential aspirants such as Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of the All Progressive Congress (APC) and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) while a few others on the platform of both leading parties have declared intention to run for presidency in 2023.
Also did INEC warned parties specifically to conduct rancour free primaries to avoid pre- election litigations.
“It is necessary that all political parties comply with the extant legal framework, ensure proper organisation and management of party primaries and the nomination of qualified candidates in order to prevent unnecessary litigations and rancour”, said Yakubu.
The commission has therefore fixed Saturday February 25, 2023, for Presidential and National Assembly elections while elections for Governorship and House of Assembly seats in the states will be conducted on March 11, 2023.
Notable feature in the released timetable include time-frame for political campaigns.
According to INEC candidates for Presidential and National Assembly seats are to commence campaign on September 25, 2022 and end on February 23, 2023.
Governorship and State Assembly candidates are to commence campaign on October 12,2022 and stop on March 9,2023.
Reeling out the timetable, Prof. Yakubu said “under the law, there are critical time-bound activities from the publication of Notice of Election to the Conduct of Polls which form the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for elections. Some of the critical activities and their dates of implementation are as follows:
“Publication of Notice of Election – Monday 28th February 2022, Conduct of party primaries, including the resolution of disputes arising from them – Monday 4th April 2022 to Friday 3rd June 2022.
“Submission of nomination forms to INEC via the online portal for Presidential and National Assembly election – 9.00am on Friday 10th June 2022 to 6.00pm on Friday 17th June 2022.
Submission of nomination forms to INEC via the online nomination portal for Governorship and State Assembly elections – 9.00am on Friday 1st July 2022 to 6.00pm on Friday 15th July 2022.
“Commencement of Campaign by political parties for Presidential and National Assembly election – Wednesday 28th September 2022. Commencement of Campaign by political parties for Governorship and State Assembly elections – Wednesday 12th October 2022.
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“Last day of campaign by political parties for Presidential and National Assembly elections – midnight on Thursday 23rd February 2023. Last day of campaign by political parties for Governorship and State Assembly elections – midnight on Thursday 9th March 2023”.
According to the INEC chairman, the delay in signing of the Electoral Bill by President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday necessitated a slight change in the already approved timetable for the 2023 general polls.
“Consequently, the 2023 General Election was scheduled to commence on 18th February 2023 with the Presidential and National Assembly elections, followed by the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections on the 4th of March 2023. However, the Commission could not release the detailed Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the General Election, as it normally would, because of the pending enactment of the Electoral Act 2022. The Bill has now been signed into law.
“Therefore, the Electoral Act 2022, together with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), form the legal basis for conducting all elections in Nigeria.
“In particular, the Electoral Act provides strict timelines for the implementation of electoral activities based on the date of the General Election. One of the significant timelines is the publication of Notice of Election not later than 360 days before the day appointed for holding an election which has now lapsed for the 2023 General Election.
“Consequently, the Commission has decided to adjust the dates of the 2023 General Election to ensure compliance with the provisions of the new law. Accordingly, the Presidential and National Assembly elections will now hold on Saturday 25th February 2023 while the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections will hold two weeks later on Saturday 11th March 2023. With this adjustment, the 2023 General Election is now 363 days away”, the Chairman said.
With the newly signed Electoral Bill 2022, it will be the fourth time since the restoration of democracy in Nigeria in May 1999 that the Electoral Act was repealed and re-enacted.
The 1998 – 1999 elections were administered by transitional decrees until the 2001 Electoral Act was passed into law. Then, the Act was repealed and re-enacted as the Electoral Act 2002 which was in turn repealed and re-enacted in 2006, 2010 and now we have the 2022 Electoral Act.
With the coming into force of the Electoral Act 2022, Yakubu promised that the Commission will work assiduously to conclude and publish new Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections that are consistent with the Act.
He said these Regulations and Guidelines as well as Manuals issued by the Commission are all part of the legal regulatory framework for elections.