Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has expressed disappointment over the failure of many political parties to comply with the extant rule guiding the submission of polling agents for the 2019 general elections.
The statement signed by the National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, warned that while political parties have Monday February 11, as deadline for the polling agents in next weekend’s presidential and legislative elections, the parties have February 16 as the last day for governorship and state Assembly elections.
The commission warned that it would not allow any serving official holding any appointive and elective post to serve as polling agent.
“INEC met with its Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) from all the 36 states of the federation and the FCT Abuja on Friday February 8, 2019, to further review its state of readiness for the general elections.
“The commission decided to draw the attention of the registered political parties and members of the public to the provisions of the law regarding the submission of names of polling/party agents by political parties thus: Section 45 (1) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) provides that:
“Each political party may, by notice in writing addressed to the Electoral Officer of the Local Government Area or Area Council, appoint a polling agent for each polling unit and collation centre in the Local Government Area or Area Council for which it has a candidate and the notice, which sets out the name and address of the polling agent shall be accompanied by two passport photographs of each polling agent and sample signature of the polling agent and be given to the Electoral Officer at least 14 days before the date fixed for the election.
“Provided that no person presently serving as Chairman or member of a Local Government or Area Council, Commissioner of a State, Deputy Governor, or Governor of a State, Minister or any other person holding political office under any tier of government and who has not resigned his appointment at least three months before the election shall serve as a polling agent of any political party, either at the polling unit or at any centre designated for collation of results of election.
“Accordingly, the commission in its timetable and schedule of activities for this year’s general elections published on January 9, 2018, fixed February 1, 2019, as the last date for the submission of the names, two passport photographs of each polling agent and their sample signatures for the Presidential and National Assembly elections and February 16, 2019.
“The commission is concerned that a week after the deadline for the submission of the list of poll agents for Presidential and National Assembly elections and less than three weeks to the deadline for the submission of the list of candidates for the governorship and state Assembly elections, only few political parties have complied with the extant provisions of the law.
“Most of the lists submitted are not accompanied by the photographs and specimen signatures of the poll/party agents as required by law.
“The commission has decided as follows: All political parties that submitted incomplete applications without the specimen signatures and photographs of the poll/party agents are strongly requested to regularise this on or before close of work on Monday the February 11, 2019.
“All political parties are reminded that February 16, 2019, is the last day for the submission of the names, photographs and specimen signatures of poll/party agents for the Governorship, State Assembly and Area Council elections.
“Any list of poll/party agents that is not accompanied by specimen signatures and photographs of poll/party agents will be rejected. It is unlawful for political parties to deploy poll/party agents whose names have not been forwarded to the Commission and duly accredited in accordance with the law. The security agents have been so informed and no recognition, right or privilege will be accorded to anyone not accredited by the commission,” the statement read.