The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has warned political parties and their members against campaigns ahead of 2019 general elections, saying it was against the Electoral Act and the Constitution.
Chairman of the commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, gave the warning at a quarterly consultative meeting with the media in Abuja on Tuesday.
Yakubu said the fact that the commission had released the dates for the elections did not give politicians or political parties the permission to start soliciting for electoral support.
“Fixing the dates and release of timetable does not mean commencement of political campaign.
“I want to use this opportunity to draw the attention of political parties and politicians that are already going round the country campaigning that INEC, the only agency empowered to release schedule of activities, has not done so.
“Anything that anybody does now in that regard is illegal, against the law. They should wait for the timetable of the elections,” he said.
The INEC chairman disclosed that the commission was already working on the budget for the general elections.
“As you are aware, we have concluded the strategic plan. We are now working on the Election Project Plan, which we hope to conclude by this time next week.
“Once we conclude the Election Project Plan, a number of activities will commence; one of them is the election budget. We are working to know how much 2019 election will cost this country.
“We will not be able to give you a figure now because we are working on the project plan,’’ he said.
On underage voters, Yakubu said that INEC would never register any underage person or allow such people to vote during elections.
He explained that picture of underage voters on queue during elections, which went virile in the social media, was discovered to be those queuing for their aged parents or pregnant mothers.
He, however, said that it was the responsibility of all stakeholders in ensuring that such was not allowed in the electoral process.
To ensure that the purpose of introducing voter card and card reader was not eroded, Yakubu said that INEC would review the process and guidelines for the use of “Incident Form’’.
He added that the National Assembly had assured the commission that ongoing amendment of the Electoral Act would be concluded before the election period.
He said that the commission would continue to relate with the legislature to ensure that the amendment was not too close to the election time.
On INEC personnel on trial for alleged corrupt practices in recent elections, including Rivers, Yakubu assured that the commission would continue to give needed support to the success to ensure conclusive prosecution.
He said that affected workers, who were no fewer than 200, had remained on interdiction pending the resolution of cases against them.
He said that the commission was waiting a Court of Appeal ruling on ongoing process for the recall of Sen. Dino Melaye representing Kogi West Senatorial District, for the next step.
According to him, citizens have the right to recall their representatives, and in the case of Sen. Melaye, if the court allows us, we will courageously proceed with the process.