National Commissioner, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Barr. Festus Okoye, declared yesterday that threats of violence and heightened tension can only lead to low voter turn-out but will not prevent the holding of elections.
He also said there is no provision in the constitution or the law that obligates the commission to halt, postpone or alter the timing of election to enable political parties and candidates to put their house in order.
The chairman of Information and Voter Education Committee of INEC while addressing sensitisation forum for media managers from the North West and Niger State in Katsina said no law or constitutional provision gives an indication of what will happen if Nigeria is unable to hold elections within the constitutionally circumscribed period.
“For the INEC, the February 16, 2019, presidential and National Assembly elections as well as the governorship and State Assembly elections slated for the 2nd day of March, 2019, remain sacrosanct and will definitely take place on the dates and times released by the commission,” he insisted.
Noting that the commission is still grappling with contradictory and confusing court orders emanating from courts of coordinate jurisdiction, the constitutional lawyer assured that the electoral umpire would continue to be guided by the constitution and the law in coming to a decision on contradictory court orders.
While reaffirming the readiness of the commission to conduct the polls, Okoye disclosed that zonal stores of the INEC had been taking delivery of non-sensitive materials meant for the exercise while the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had started receiving sensitive materials for the polls.
He however urged political parties that apart from fielding candidates, engaging in field campaigns and the printing of posters and other paraphernalia of getting out the votes, they had a responsibility to comply strictly with the dictates of the law in the nomination of their polling or party agents.
He said the commission will be transparent in its dealings with the Nigerian people and believes that the nation’s electoral process will grow and mature when Nigerian people take ownership of the process and genuinely determine leadership succession.
On his part, the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Katsina State, Jibril Ibrahim Zarewa, noted that the sensitisation forum was in furtherance of the commission’s policy of constant engagement with critical stakeholders in the electoral process.