2015: INEC Threatens Parties Over Deadline Failure

As preparations for the 2015 general elections heat up, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has commenced the publication of names of candidates for various positions, declaring that any political party that failed to meet the deadline for submission of names for specific elective positions should forget about fielding a candidate ahead of the 2015 elections.

The publication of the names is done at the constituency level for all candidates.

The commission also said it does not recognise parallel primaries, stressing that only names of candidates signed by the national chairman and secretary of political parties would be accepted.

According to the INEC guidelines for the 2015 elections, while the deadline for submission of candidates for presidential and National Assembly elections is December 18, submission of names for governorship and state houses of assembly elections is December 25.

The presidential and National Assembly elections are billed for February 14, 2015, while governorship and state houses of assembly elections are scheduled for February 28, 2015.

Speaking to LEADERSHIP Sunday yesterday, Kayode Idowu, who is the chief press secretary to INEC chairman Prof. Attahiru Jega, noted that any political party that failed to meet the deadline for submission of candidates’ names to the commission automatically will not present a candidate.

“December 25, 2014 was the closing date for submission and any political party that has not submitted a name is not fielding a candidate by implication,” he said, adding that the commission is already “displaying the particulars of candidates for claims and objection at the constituency level as required by law.”

Idowu noted that for the presidential position whose constituency is Nigeria, “we are displaying it in all INEC offices nationwide.”

Continuing, he said, “For all other positions, we are displaying that for all the states relevant. It has been on display.”

On the parallel candidature, he said, “INEC is concerned, but INEC is not aware of parallel primaries. It has no place in law. The law makes it clear the procedures for conduct of primaries. Political parties shall nominate candidates which INEC will have no cause to reject.”

He noted that only the candidates presented by national chairmen and national secretaries of political parties would be recognised.

“INEC has records of the officials of party executives, so INEC knows who is an executive. People who we don’t have records on cannot invite us and we go to monitor their primaries,” he said.

He however noted that only a court ruling can cause the commission to reject a candidate by a party. “Of course, if a court rules that a candidate nominated by a party must not be accepted, if that happens, we will accept the law.”

However, the commission will setup a committee for the verification of legislative houses candidates (national/state assembly verification/clearance committee) which will be visiting the states to verify the personal particulars of the candidates between January 4 and 14, 2015, while the presidential/governorship verification/clearance committee will conduct the verification in the commission’s headquarters, Abuja, from January 16 and 18, 2015.

The commission is also poised to slam a fine of N500,000 on parties that present candidates who filed false information.

According to information on the commission’s website, “Parties are requested to ensure that the candidates they intend to sponsor at the elections are available with the originals of all their credentials at the respective venues for the exercise, in case they are required.

“The attention of parties and their candidates is also drawn to section 32 of the Electoral Act, 2006, which disqualifies any candidate who provides false information in his/her affidavit (Form CF 001) from contesting elections. Furthermore, a political party which presents such a candidate is guilty of an offence and is liable to a fine up to N500,000.”

The personal particulars are displayed in all the state and local government offices of the commission in the constituencies of the candidates.

“Any person who has reasonable grounds to believe that any information given by any candidate is false, or that the candidate is not qualified, or is disqualified from contesting the elections should notify the commission in writing within seven days of this publication,” the commission stated.

According to the constitution, grounds for qualification for the offices are: citizenship – candidates must be Nigerian citizens (by birth for the executive offices); Age – president/vice president 40 years, governor/deputy governor 35 years, senate 35 years, house of representatives 30 years, house of assembly 30 years, chairman of area council 30 years, and councillor of area council 25 years.

Candidates are also qualified on grounds of education; up to school certificate level or its equivalent, and must belong to the party sponsoring him.

However, a candidate will be disqualified if he or she has declared allegiance to another country; has been elected to the office of president or governor at any two previous elections, and has been adjudged to be a lunatic or declared to be of unsound mind.

Also, if the candidate is under a sentence of death, or is under a sentence of imprisonment, or fine for an offence involving dishonesty or fraud; has in the last 10 years been convicted and sentenced for an offence involving dishonesty; has been found guilty of a contravention of the code of conduct; and is an undischarged bankrupt.

Also, the candidate stands disqualified if he or she is employed in the public service and does not resign, withdraw or retire at least 30 days to the election; is a member of a secret society; has been indicted for embezzlement or fraud by a judicial committee of inquiry or an administrative panel of inquiry or a tribunal and which indictment has been accepted by the federal or state government; and has presented a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission.