Just In: INEC backtracks, lifts ban on party campaigns

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has lifted the ban on campaigns by political parties and candidates ahead of Saturday’s rescheduled elections.

The commission which said it took the decision after consultations with political parties in the country disclosed this in a statement issued by its National Commissioner Information and Voter Education, Festus Okoye, at the end of its meeting held on Monday to review its preparations for the February 23rd Presidential and National Assembly elections.

By this development, the ban on campaigns would now come into effect midnight on Thursday, 21st February 2019, which is 48 hours before the commencement of the polls as stipulated by the Electoral Act.

It would be recalled that the country’s major parties; the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) had vowed to continue their campaigns, stressing that the provisions of the Electoral Act superseded that of INEC’s administrative rule on the 2019 elections which it relied on to issue a ban on campaigns, inspite of the postponement last Saturday.

The statement reads:

“The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) met on Monday 18th February 2019 and reviewed its preparations for the 2019 General Elections rc-scheduled for Saturday. 23rd February 2019 for the Presidential and National Assembly Elections and Saturday. 9th March 2019 for Governorship, State Assembly and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Area Council Elections.

“It would be recalled that at the briefing held on Saturday. 16th February 2019 at the Abuja International Conference Centre (AICC). the Commission gave reasons for re-scheduling the polls and released a new Schedule of Activities leading up to the elections.

“The Commission has also worked out in detail. concrete steps to be taken to ensure that election materials arrive at the polling units in good time for prompt commencement of the polls on Saturday. 23rd February 2019. An update will be provided by the Commission at a press conference on Tuesday. 19th February at the Abuja International Conference Centre by 3pm.

“1n the meantime. after consultations with political parties. the Commission has approved that campaigns by parties and candidates can resume forthwith to end by midnight of Thursday, 21st February 2019.

“Media organisations are at liberty to accept, publish. broadcast and circulate campaign materials up till midnight of Thursday. 21st February 2019. Political Parties and their candidates are enjoined to abide by the extant laws governing campaigns.

“The Commission wishes to thank all Nigerians for their understanding regarding the rescheduling of the elections. We appeal to stakeholders to be dispassionate and circumspect in their comments. The Commission is focusing on the elections to be held on 23rd February and 9th March to ensure that they are free. fair and credible. We urge all Nigerians to participate fully in the elections. notwithstanding the disappointment.

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