The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has warned political parties against violence in their primaries, threatening to boycott the exercises if its staff continues to be exposed to harm.
The Commission warned it will no longer condone unprovoked attacks against INEC staff and destruction of its properties by political parties.
It charged parties to while conducting their congresses and primaries “hold themselves to the same standards they hold the Commission during elections namely, openness, fairness, adherence to rules and peaceful conduct”.
In a statement by National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, INEC said: “We have watched with utmost dismay and profound concern the recurrent acrimony, violence and destruction of property, including the Commission’s property and equipment, which have characterised some recent political party congresses across the country.
“This is the season of political party congresses and conventions to elect their leaders at various levels of party organization and INEC is mandated by law to monitor them. These meetings constitute a very important aspect of the electoral process and democracy generally in Nigeria”.
It added: “The level of violence in some of the Congresses is making it extremely difficult for the Commission to exercise its statutory oversight responsibility enshrined in Sections 85 and 87 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended).
“In one such Congress in Kaduna recently, violence broke out leading to the destruction of the Commission’s ballot boxes.
“Political parties are reminded that they have a clear obligation to ensure that their Congresses and Conventions are orderly, democratic and in accordance with extant legal framework, their own constitutions and guidelines, as well as INEC’s regulations and guidelines.
“This Commission will not stand askance and watch party conventions and congresses degenerate into farcical rituals and violent fiascos that threaten lives and destroy property.
“Finally, in the conduct of their internal processes, political parties must hold themselves to the same standards they hold the Commission during elections namely, openness, fairness, adherence to rules and peaceful conduct.
“INEC remains deeply concerned about the acrimony and violence within parties such that there are now more suits in various courts of law arising from party congresses and primaries than from elections conducted by the Commission.
“Still, the Commission will continue to work with political parties in support of their internal functioning in order to build strong and democratic parties in Nigeria”.
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