By Chimezie Godfrey
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, says it has made all necessary preparations for the forthcoming FCT Area Council elections.
The National Commissioner & Chairman
Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, made this known in a statement made available to newsmen on Friday.
Okoye disclosed that the Commission held its regular weekly meeting on Thursday 13th January 2022 and an extra-ordinary meeting today Friday 14th January 2022.
According to him, at these meetings, the Commission reviewed its preparations for the Area Council elections in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) holding on Saturday 12th February 2022 as well as other outstanding elections for the year 2022.
He therefore urged citizens who applied for fresh registration as well as transfers and replacement of the PVCs to do so immediately and avoid last minute rush for these cards
“The FCT is the only part of Nigeria where INEC conducts Local Government elections. A total of 475 candidates sponsored by all the 18 political parties are vying for the 68 constituencies involving six Area Council Chairmen and 62 Councillors.
“The Commission is finalizing all arrangements for the election. Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) for all new registrants as well as requests for transfers and replacement of damaged cards have been printed and are available in all the six Area Councils for collection.
“The Commission appeals to citizens who applied for fresh registration as well as transfers and replacement of the PVCs to do so immediately and avoid last minute rush for these cards, as has been the case in the past,” Okoye stated.
He assured that the Commission will continue to provide regular update on the preparations for these elections in the days and weeks ahead.
On stakeholder engagements, he revealed that the Commission has scheduled the first in the regular quarterly consultative meetings for year 2022.
He said,”In keeping with its tradition of engaging with stakeholders, the Commission has scheduled the first in the regular quarterly consultative meetings for 2022 as follows:
“1. Political Parties – Tuesday 18th January 2022
“2. Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) – Wednesday 19th January 2022
“3. Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) – Thursday 20th January 2022
“4. Media Organisations – Friday 21st January 2022.”
On pending Bye-Elections, Okoye noted,” the declaration of vacancies by the Honourable Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Honourable Speakers of some State Houses of Assembly, the Commission has scheduled bye-elections for six constituencies in 4 States as follows:
” Akure North/Akure South Federal Constituency, Ondo State
” Jos North/Bassa Federal Constituency, Plateau State
” Pankshin South State Constituency, Plateau State
“Ogoja/Yala Federal Constituency, Cross River State
“Akpabuyo State Constituency, Cross River State
“Ngor-Okpala State Constituency, Imo State
“The elections will hold on Saturday 26th February 2022 immediately after the FCT Area Council elections. This will enable the Commission to clear most of the bye-elections, focus on the Ekiti and Osun Governorship elections and ongoing preparations for the 2023 General Election.
“Some of the vacancies arose as a result of the death of the previous occupants; substantial disruption of the electoral process and fulfillment of constitutional and legal requirements in the electoral process.
“The Commission considered the issues that led to the vacancies and the rescheduling of some of the elections as well as the security situation in some of the States. The Commission decided to combine the Ekiti East 1 State Constituency election with the Governorship election in Ekiti, which will hold on 18th June 2022.”
Okoye further stated that the Commission is consulting with security agencies and the critical stakeholders relating to the vacancy in Shinkafi State Constituency of Zamfara State while the Speaker of the Kaduna State House of Assembly has not declared vacancy in relation to Giwa State Constituency of Kaduna State.
“The official notification for the elections will be published on Monday 24th January 2022.
“Political Parties shall conduct their primaries including resolution of disputes arising from the primaries between 26th January and 5th February 2022 while the last day for submission of list of nominated candidates is at 6pm on the 9th February 2022 and this must be done through the Commission’s online nomination portal.
“Political Parties shall submit the names of their Polling Agents for the election to the Electoral Officer of the Local Government on or before 12th February 2022 and campaigns by Political parties shall stop on 24th February 2022.
“The Access Code for the nomination forms shall be available for collection from 5th February 2022 at the Commission’s headquarters,” he said.
The INEC Commissioner stressed that political parties fielding candidates for the bye-elections must comply with the activities and timelines set out in the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the conduct of the bye-election and conduct transparent and valid direct or indirect primaries in accordance with the dictates of sections 85 and 87 of the Electoral Act 2010 [As amended].
He also stated political parties must note that the aspirant with the highest number of votes at the end of voting shall be declared the winner of the primary of the party and the aspirant’s name shall be forwarded to the Commission as the candidate of the party.
Okoye stressed political parties that present to the Commission the name of a candidate who does not meet the qualifications stipulated in the Constitution and the Electoral Act shall be guilty of an offence and on conviction shall be liable to a maximum fine of N500,000.00.
He also disclosed that the detailed Timetable and Schedule of activities has been uploaded on the Commission’s website and social media platforms.