The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has fixed the conduct of six outstanding constituencies by-elections in four states for Feb. 26.
The commission announced this in a statement issued by Mr. Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee on Friday evening in Abuja.
Okoye said that the decision was taken at INEC’s regular weekly meeting held on Thursday and an extra-ordinary meeting of Friday, where issues that led to the vacancies and the rescheduling of some of the elections, as well as the security situation in some of the states, were discussed.
Okoye said that the decision followed the declaration of vacancies by the speaker of the House of Representatives and the speakers of some state houses of assembly.
The vacancies according to Okoye are Akure North/Akure South Federal Constituency, Ondo State; Jos North/Bassa Federal Constituency, Plateau and Pankshin South State Constituency, Plateau.
Others are Ogoja/Yala Federal Constituency, Cross River, Akpabuyo State Constituency, Cross River, and Ngor-Okpala State Constituency, Imo.
Okoye said that the by-elections would hold on Feb. 26 immediately after the FCT Area Council elections.
“This will enable the commission to clear most of the by-elections, focus on the Ekiti and Osun governorship elections and the ongoing preparations for the 2023 general election,” Okoye said.
The national commissioner said that some of the vacancies arose because of the death of the previous occupants, substantial disruption of the electoral process, and fulfillment of constitutional and legal requirements in the electoral process.
He said that INEC decided to combine the Ekiti East 1 State Constituency election with the governorship election in Ekiti, which would hold on June 18.
Okoye also said that the commission was consulting with security agencies and the critical stakeholders relating to the vacancy in the Shinkafi State Constituency of Zamfara.
He added that the speaker of the Kaduna State House of Assembly had not declared a vacancy in relation to the Giwa State Constituency of Kaduna State.
Okoye said that the official notification for the elections would be published on Jan. 24.
“Political Parties shall conduct their primaries, including resolution of disputes arising from the primaries, between Jan. 26 and Feb. 5,” he said.
He added that the last day for submission of the list of nominated candidates is on Feb. 9 at 6 p.m. and that must pass through the commission’s online nomination portal.
“Political parties shall submit the names of their polling agents for the election to the electoral officer of the local government on or before Feb. 12 and campaigns by political parties shall stop on Feb. 24.
“The access code for the nomination forms shall be available for collection from Feb. 5 at the commission’s headquarters,” he explained.
He advised parties to comply with the INEC timelines and the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) in conducting transparent and valid direct or indirect primaries.
He warned that any parties that present a candidate who does not meet the qualifications stipulated in the constitution and the Electoral Act shall be guilty of an offense and on conviction shall be liable to a maximum fine of N500,000.
Okoye said that INEC at the meetings also reviewed its preparations for the area council elections in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) holding on Feb. 12.
He said that INEC was finalizing all arrangements for the election.
He appealed to citizens who applied for new registration and transfers and replacement of the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) to immediately collect it and avoid a last-minute rush for those cards.
He said that PVC for all new registrants and requests for transfers and replacement of damaged cards had been printed and were available in all the six area councils of the FCT for collection.
“The commission will continue to provide a regular update on the preparations for these elections in the days and weeks ahead,” he said.
Okoye also noted that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in keeping with its tradition of engaging with stakeholders in the regular quarterly consultative meetings would meet political parties on Jan. 18.
He said that the commission would also meet CSOs on Jan. 19; Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) on Jan. 20 and media organizations on Jan. 21 (NAN)