The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has approved resumption of presidential and National Assembly campaigns across the country.
Campaigns ended on Thursday, February 14, just before the originally scheduled February 16 elections.
However, in the early hours of Saturday, February 16, INEC shifted the elections to February 23 while governorship, House of Assembly and Federal Capital Territoty Area Council elections, initially scheduled for March 2, would now take place on Saturday, March 9.
Shortly after that announcement, the ruling All Progressives Congress and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) announced resumption of campaigns, insisting that the shift has necessitated fresh round of campaigns.
The two political parties relied on section 99 (1) of the Electoral Act, which stipulates that, “for the purposes of this Act, the period of campaigning in public by every political party shall commence 90 days before polling day and end 24 hours prior to that day.”
They subsequently rejected the ban on campaigns.
Regardless, In a statement, yesterday night, the INEC National Commissioner in charge of Information and Voter Education, Mr. Festus Okoye, said the ban has been lifted till Thursday, February 21.
Okoye said the Commission took the decision, yesterday, after meeting with political parties and reviewing plans for the elections.
“After consultations with political parties, the Commission has approved that campaigns by parties and candidates can resume forthwith and end by midnight of Thursday, February 21.
“Media organisations are at liberty to accept, publish, broadcast and circulate campaign materials up till midnight of Thursday, February 21. Political parties and their candidates are enjoined to abide by the extant laws governing campaigns.
“The Commission is focusing on the elections to be held on February 23 and March 9; to ensure that they are free, fair and credible. We urge all Nigerians to participate fully in the elections, notwithstanding the disappointment.”
A press conference on updated preparations of the Commission is scheduled for today, at the International Conference Centre in Abuja, at 3:00pm.
When he announced the new election dates, INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said the collection of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) and campaign by political parties remained closed.