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Edo, Ondo Guber Polls: INEC Warns Against Power Of Incumbency To Stifle Opposition Candidates

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Ignatius Okorocha, Abuja

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has warned ruling political parties against denying opposition political parties’ access to public places for their campaigns considering that it is a recurring trend in Nigeria’s election process.

This was disclosed in a press release by the National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Sam Olumekun in preparation of the Edo and Ondo states upcoming governorship elections.

He said “Over the years, a recurring problem in Nigeria’s electoneering process has been the use of the power of incumbency to deny opposition parties and candidates access to public facilities for rallies and other campaign activities.

“These include public buildings such as sports stadiums, open spaces in public places, total denial or restricted access to state-owned media (specifically radio and television stations), the imposition of excessive levies and fees for outdoor and media advertising, and even the removal or vandalization of billboards and posters. These actions often result in violent clashes among party supporters and a breach of public peace”.

Mr. Olumekun drew the attention of political parties and their candidates to the extant laws guiding public campaigns, especially Section 95(2) of the Electoral Act 2022 which prohibits the use of State apparatus to “the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate at any election”.

He noted that in “Section 95(3-5), public media houses must allot equal coverage and visibility to all parties and candidates. Section 95(6) provides sanctions against heads of public media organizations, their principal officers, and other officials for contravention”.

A publication containing the Commission’s guidelines for the conduct of political rallies, processions, and campaigns has already been uploaded to the Commission’s website www.inecnigeria.org, as well as its social media platforms for strict compliance by all concerned.

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