The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has directed political parties desirous of fielding candidates for the 2023 general elections in Nigeria to ensure the conduct of the party primaries for nomination of candidates within the ambit of the law.
The Commission therefore urged political parties to conduct their various primaries within 61 days (from April 4 to June 3rd, 2022) as stipulated in Section 84 of the Electoral Act 2022.
The Commission’s National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Barrister Festus Okoye, said this in Abuja yesterday.
Okoye urged all political parties intending to participate in the elections to adhere strictly to the principles of internal democracy, drawing from their constitutions, guidelines, the Electoral Act and other Regulations and Guidelines issued by the Commission.
He cautioned that any political parties that did not comply with provisions of law in electing their candidates for elective offices for the general elections would have such candidates disqualified for the respective elections.
“Their candidates for the 1,491 constituencies for which elections will be conducted in 2023 must emerge from democratic, transparent and valid primaries in line with the provisions of Sections 29 and 84 of the Electoral Act, 2022. Where a political party fails to comply with the provisions of the Act in the conduct of its primaries, its candidate shall not be included in the election for the particular position in issue”, he clarified.
Some political parties were on the wrong end of the law in this regard, and had some of their candidates disqualified even after they had contested and won elections in the last general elections conducted in 2019.
Okoye assured that as required by law, the Commission shall monitor the primaries of each political party that provides the required legal notice in line with Sections 82 (1) and (5) of the Electoral Act.
He however, warned that where a political party failed to notify the Commission of any convention or congress convened for the purpose of nominating candidates for any of the elective offices specified in the Act, such a convention or congress would be rendered invalid.
“Primaries must be conducted in the various constituencies as provided in Section 84 of the Electoral Act as it is a violation of the law to conduct primaries outside the constituencies for which parties are nominating candidates. The Commission will not monitor such primaries and their outcome will not be accepted”, he cautioned.
INEC enjoined political parties to avoid acrimonious primaries that could result in unnecessary litigations that may lead to failure to nominate and field candidates for elections in some constituencies.