The number of associations and interest groups seeking to be registered as political parties by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has risen to 84.
The contentious Advanced Peoples Democratic Party (APDP) is also one of them.
This is coming just as the 2019 presidential and National Assembly elections has be slated for February 16, 2019 while the governorship and state assembly elections will hold in March 2019.
This was disclosed by INEC’s national commissioner in charge of the South West, Prince Solomon Soyebi at a press conference yesterday.
Soyebi added that the registration for the political associations were at different stages, even as he declined to disclose the owners or sponsors of the associations.
He, however, said they would be registered if they meet the requirements for such registration.
Explaining why the date for the 2019 election was declared, Soyebi said, “Our democracy is maturing and the commission believes that there should be certainty with regard to the timetable for elections. For instance, in the United States, general elections always hold on the second Tuesday of November in the election year. In Ghana, it is the 7th of December of the election year, while in other places like Mexico, Norway, Sweden, Costa Rica and Switzerland, the dates are also known in advance.
“In Nigeria, the constitution provides for elections to hold not earlier than 150 days and not later than 30 days to the end of the incumbent’s tenure. In order to ensure certainty in our dates for elections, and to allow for proper planning by the Commission, political parties, security agencies, candidates and all stakeholders, the Commission has decided to fix the date for the National Elections for the third Saturday in February of the election year, followed by State elections two weeks later
“To that extent, 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”.
He also hinted that the Commission has also received a report from the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) of the Federation, informing it that 23 Electoral Officers indicted, following investigation into the December 10, 2016 Rivers Re-run elections have been charged to court.
Soyebi said, “The Commission has repeatedly said that it will cooperate with security agencies for the prosecution of any of our staff found to have violated the integrity of the electoral process. Accordingly, at our meeting today, the Commission decided to apply the provisions of the INEC Terms and Conditions of Service to all those charged to court, since it constitutes gross misconduct. The penalty for this is interdiction. All the 23 Electoral Officers will be placed on half salary and will not report for duty pending the determination of their respective cases by the court.
“You will recall that last week, we informed you that a decision would be taken this week on the recommendation by the Disciplinary Committee on staff members indicted by the EFCC Report for misconduct during the 2015 General Elections. However, in view of the fact that some of the staff are also among those being prosecuted by the DPP, the Commission has decided to defer its decision on the EFCC Report to enable us reconcile the EFCC/DPP reports”.
He further stated that the commission will on March 14, meet with political parties and on March 15 meet with Civil Society Organizations.
He added that the commission will also meet the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES), on March 17 and the media organizations on March 21.