From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has issued a warning to political parties planning to field unqualified candidates for the March 20 Ekiti East Constituency 1 by-election to be ready to pay N500,000 in fines.
In a statement issued by National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, the Commission warned that under section 31(8) of the Electoral Act, a political party which presents the name of a candidate who does not meet the qualifications stipulated in the Constitution and the Electoral Act shall be guilty of an offence and on conviction shall be liable to a maximum fine of N500,000.
Presenting the timetable and schedule for the byelection, the Commission disclosed that while political parties shall conduct primaries between February 26 and March 3, 2021, the last day for submission of list of nominated candidates is at 6pm March 8, 2021.
According to the statement: ‘INEC met on February 23, 2021 and deliberated on a number of issues including the conduct of Bye-election into the vacant seat of Ekiti East Constituency 1 of Ekiti State.
‘The vacancy arose as a result of the death of Hon. Adegbuyi Oluwajuwa Amos, member representing Ekiti East Constituency 1 in the House of Assembly and the subsequent declaration of vacancy for the Constituency by the Speaker of the Ekiti State House of Assembly Rt Hon Funminiyi Afuye.
‘Consequently, the Commission has fixed Saturday March 20, 2021, for the conduct of the bye-election to fill the vacant seat for the Ekiti East Constituency 1 of Ekiti State.
‘The official notification for the election will be published Wednesday February 24, 2021. Political Parties shall conduct their primaries between February 26 and March 3, 2021, while the last day for submission of a list of nominated candidates is at 6 pm on March 8, 2021.
‘The Access Code for the nomination forms shall be available for collection from February 24, 2021 at the Commission’s headquarters.
The Commission enjoins all political parties intending to field candidates to pay close attention to the Timetable and Schedule of Activities.
‘They should conduct transparent and valid party primaries that meet the provisions of Section 87 of the Electoral Act 2010 (As Amended). Political parties must note that under section 31(8) of the Electoral Act, a political party which presents to the Commission the name of a candidate who does not meet the qualifications stipulated in the Constitution and the Electoral Act shall be guilty of an offence and on conviction shall be liable to a maximum fine of N500,000.00.
‘The detailed Timetable and Schedule of activities has been uploaded on the Commission’s website and social media platforms,’ the statement read.