By Tunde Oguntola
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has deployed a new Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Dr Hale Gabriel Longpet, to Kogi State.
This is even as the Commission said it will publish the personal particulars of candidates nominated by their political parties for Governorship and State Assembly elections in all the constituencies nationwide on Friday, July 22, 2022, as required by law.
INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who disclosed this while speaking at the swearing-in of the new Resident Electoral Commissioner on Thursday in Abuja, appealed to all Nigerians (citizens and aspirants) to seize the opportunity to scrutinise the particulars of the candidates and to seek judicial remedy for any observed violation of the law as provided in Section 29 of the Electoral Act 2022.
Already, he said the Commission has been inundated by numerous pre-election cases arising from the conduct of congresses and primaries by political parties for the 2023 General Election.
“So far, 334 pre-election cases have been filed in various divisions of the Federal High Court across the country by aspirants challenging the nomination of candidates or their exclusion from the list submitted to the Commission.
“Although these are purely intra-party issues, the Commission has been joined in all these cases. With the publication tomorrow of the personal particulars of candidates for Governorship, Deputy Governorship and State Assembly elections, we expect the number of cases to rise even higher.
“Sadly, the issue of internal democracy in political parties remains a sore point in our electoral process in Nigeria. The Commission will continue to engage with political parties while standing firm against any transgression by strictly enforcing the provisions of the law and extant regulations and guidelines,” he said.
Earlier, Prof. Yakubu reiterated that in line with the Commission’s current policy, no REC will serve in his or her state of origin throughout his or her tenure.
Yakubu noted that the Commission has set the bar for credible elections very high and urged the new REC to join in raising the bar even higher.
In discharging his responsibilities, the helmsman of the Commission tasked the new REC to, at all times, be transparent and non-partisan while remaining firm and courageous.
“You must quickly familiarise yourself with the electoral legal framework (the 1999 Constitution [as amended], the Electoral Act 2022 and the Commission’s Regulations and Guidelines).
“You should also study the Commission’s Strategic Plan 2022-2026, the Election Project Plan 2023 as well as established processes and procedures. After all, the 2023 General Election is just 218 days (or about 7 months) away,” he said.
He assured the new REC that the Commission will always support him to deliver on its commitment to credible elections.