Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) has warned that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) lacks the legal authority to stop political parties from campaigning after the postponement of the Presidential and National Assembly elections.
The umbrella association for all registered parties, emphasised that in the contrary, INEC is violating the constitutional stipulation that political campaigns must stop 24 hours before the election.
National chairman of IPAC, Peter Ameh, argued in a chat with Daily Sun that placing ban on political campaigns will result in voter apathy for the rescheduled election, warning: “INEC cannot rewrite the law. If it postpone the election, the campaign continues. The law explicitly spelt out when the campaign will close.
“IPAC totally disagree with INEC on the issue of not campaigning throughout one week because it is going to cause voter apathy. All the 91 political parties are supposed to energise and motivate their base ahead of the poll and that was why the law is specific on when campaign will stop. If we have a dull five days going into the election, people will feel as if there was not going to be election. Campaign itself is a form of advocacy and IPAC strongly disagree with INEC on this,” he said.
Reacting to the postponement of the presidential and National Assembly poll, Ameh told Daily Sun that; “I think where the party actually had worries was the fact that postponement was done without their prior knowledge.
“That was why I was very critical of INEC in the early hours of today. I was not happy that INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, had the audacity to make the announcement without recourse to the representatives of the parties. Even if they cannot get access to the leadership of the parties, they would have gotten across to the IPAC chairman. The postponement was uncalled for and unreasonable.
“However after careful appraisal and speaking to the INEC chairman, I came to the conclusion that it was necessary to give the election credibility. It was done to create a free and transparent process. I was made to understand that the ballot papers for States like Edo, Enugu, two senatorial districts in Niger, Ondo were problems, Oyo and about 10 states in all had problem of ballot paper delivery.
“What it means is that 10 states would have been disenfranchised and that would not have been a general election but staggered election because it means conducting another election in 10 states. Instead of partial postponement, it was better to do full postponement to conduct the election in one day,” he noted.