By Festus Ahon
RESIDENT Electoral Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in Delta State, Monday Udoh-Tom, has said the commission would not aid or abet any activity that was in breach of the Electoral Act.
Udoh-Tom, during a consultative meeting with political parties and heads of security agencies in Asaba, Delta State, said INEC would only report what it sees and would defend such in any competent court of law.
He said: “As an election manager, who had taken time to read and understand the Act, I can say without equivocation that the Act has taken away those areas, where the commission and political parties hitherto used discretion. Meaning that, congresses and primaries must be conducted in full compliance with provisions of the Act.
“Let me caution that, this commission will not aid or abet any activity that is in breach of the Act, and by implication will only report what it sees and will defend such in any competent court of law.
“As we speak, the commission is in receipt of request for Certified True Copies of reports of ward congresses. Meaning that, at least what transpired is about to be subjected to legal scrutiny.
“Going forward, any change of venue, from the original venue communicated to the commission in the letter of notification must be addressed to the office of the Resident Electoral Commissioner and delivered to that same office before the close of work, 48 hours before the scheduled congress or primaries.
“Let me, therefore, caution that INEC will not monitor congresses or primaries at venues not previously communicated to the office of the Resident Electoral Commissioner.
“Political parties should ensure internal party democracy and take advantage of the commission’s Alternative Dispute Resolution, ADR, mechanism to settle disputes arising from its activities, so as to lessen intra party litigations, which could weaken its cohesion in going into elections.
“There are signs of very active measures within the political parties to deliberately shut out some of their members from participating in the on-going congresses and primaries.
“These measures often come by way of sudden change of venue, even on the day of such congresses and primaries, different from the venues indicated in the notification to the commission.
“Conducting congresses and primaries at unholy and unreasonable hours, for instance at 6 am when people are still on their beds.
“Glaring signs of non-adherence to the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022, and INEC Guidelines on the conduct of congresses and primaries, such that, there was no indication of the mode of elections, whether by direct, indirect or consensus, as reflected in the reports brought from the field.
“None to the constitution of the parties for their primaries. Forwarding list of elected delegates to the commission in congresses and primaries, where our staff did not monitor.
“It is clear from the above, that aggrieved members of such political parties, who may feel shut out or shortchanged in the series of congresses and primaries to nominate candidates, may most likely choose two courses of action, namely, resort to self help by seeking to foment violence before, during and after campaigns, with the consequence of disrupting public order and peace, and by extension lead to needless loss of lives and property.
“The other option is the resort to the law courts, which might eventually lead to the loss of already won election, if the courts were to rule that congresses or primaries upon which candidates emerged were in breach of the enabling legal provisions. The case of Zamfara is still fresh in our memories.”