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Jega warns against violating campaigns rules

11 March 2014, 13:52

Lagos - The Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, on Monday restated his warning to political parties to stop violating the rules governing electioneering ahead of 2015 polls.

Jega, who spoke during an interactive session with editors in Lagos, noted that all parties had violated the rules on campaigns.

According to the INEC chairman, it is wrong for anyone to be campaigning for votes as a candidate for now.

He said since parties had not conducted primaries no candidate could lay claim to any platform yet.

Jega said: "When you say vote for me for this office in 2015, it is wrong because there is no platform. This can only happen when primaries have been conducted."

The INEC boss warned politicians to play by the rules, saying the commission was identifying people, who had breached the rules in some states.

He added that such information was being passed on to security agencies for necessary action.

Jega, however, said that political parties could conduct rallies as long as they do not campaign for votes for the 2015 general elections.

He expressed the hope that the 2015 polls would be better than the previous ones, but raised concerns over the attitude of some stakeholders, especially politicians.

Jega urged such politicians to change their attitude and respect the rules of the game.

On the part of INEC, he said the electoral body had substantially "placed square pegs in square holes" to ensure improvement in future elections.

"We have told our staff that anyone who does anything wrong will have himself or herself to blame."

Jega said apart from carrying out reorganisation, INEC had also intensified training for its permanent and ad hoc staff to make them more proficient.

He said the electoral body had also improved the integrity of the biometric register.

"We have cleaned the register. It now compares favourably with any electronic register anywhere in the world," he added.

According to Jega, INEC has introduced some security devices that can check multiple registrations.

Among other things, he said ballot papers and result sheets would also be numbered to be able to account for them.

He said INEC had over one million cases of multiple registrations, but it lacked the capacity to prosecute such a huge number of offenders.

"That is why we recommended the setting up of electoral offences tribunals in line with Justice Uwais’ recommendations."

Jega said that the permanent voter cards which INEC was introducing were chip- based and contained details of individuals which could be screened by card readers at polling units.

He noted that anyone who bought voter cards would find them difficult to use.

The INEC chairman promised that there would be continuous voter registration before the 2015 polls and the forthcoming governorship elections in Osun and Ekiti.

On the Anambra governorship elections, Jega said the polls were not as bad as they were portrayed in some quarters.

The INEC chief also urged voters to always take advantage of the display of voter’s register ahead of the polls.

Jega urged stakeholders to do their best to mobilise and enlighten voters on the need to exercise their voting rights.

Reacting to the call to hold all elections in one day, he said Nigeria was not ripe for it.

Jega said the electoral body had yet to register the Unity Party of Nigeria because there were some unresolved leadership issues in the party.

He said the electoral body’s interactions with the National Assembly also suggested that amendments to the Electoral Act might be done by July.

-  NAN

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