By Chibuzo Ukaibe, Abuja
Ahead of the 2019 general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), yesterday, warned political parties and politicians to desist from engaging in campaigns, stressing that it is illegal.
The commission further told parties or aspirants to wait for the release of the timetable for the elections.
INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu who issued the warning at a quarterly consultative meeting with the media held at the commission’s secretariat, also disclosed that while 6200 Smart Card Readers will be deployed for the November 18 Anambra State governorship election, e-tracking will also be used.
Noting that the commission has commenced work on the budget for the 2019 general elections, Yakubu said, “The release of timetable does not translate to beginning of political campaigns.
“I want to use this opportunity through the media to draw the attention of political parties and candidates that are going round the country campaigning that INEC is the only agency responsible for the release of timetable for campaigns and has not done so. That anything anybody does is illegal. Wait for the time table for the election”, he said.
While the Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose had last Thursday declared his intention to vie for the nation’s presidency in 2019, the minister of Women Affairs, Aisha Alhassan, had earlier endorsed a former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, for the 2019 presidential election.
However Section 99 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), states that, “For the purpose of this Act, the period of campaigning in public by every political party shall commence 90 days before polling day and end 24 hours prior to that day”. Whoever violets this law is liable upon conviction to a maximum fine of N500, 000.
It would be recalled that the commission had in March announced that the 2019 Presidential and National Assembly elections will hold on Saturday, 16th February 2019, while the Governorship/State Assembly/Federal Capital Territory Area Council Elections will hold on Saturday 2nd March 2019.
On the budget for the 2019 general elections, Yakubu said though the commission could not immediately place a figure on the budget, it was already working on it.
“As you are aware, we have concluded the strategic plan. We are now working on the Election Project Plan. Once we conclude the Election Project Plan, a number of things would follow among which is the election budget for the 2019 general elections which would be released next week. We are unable to give you a figure for now,” he said.