The Independent National Electoral Commission says it has not changed its decision to bar the All Progressives Congress from participating in the National Assembly, governorship and state assembly elections next year.
The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said this while responding to questions from journalists on the sidelines of the ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commission’s meeting in Abuja on Monday.
The commission had set October 7, 2018 deadline for parties to conclude their primary elections to elect candidates, but divisions within the state chapter of the APC prevented an INEC-supervised election from taking place for the governorship and legislative positions.
Consequently, in a letter signed by INEC’s Acting Secretary, Okechukwu Ndeche, and addressed to APC’s National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, the commission said the party could no longer conduct any primary elections outside of the originally-stated window and would not be allowed to participate in any election except the Presidential poll next year.
When asked if INEC would change its mind, Yakubu said, “We have issued a statement on Zamfara and nothing has changed. We stand by the statement that we issued.”
On the submission date for the list of candidates for the general elections, Yakubu said, “I am sure we have made some progress, but the deadline as we say is October 18.”
On permanent voter cards, Yakubu said those who registered in the first quarter of 2018 could collect theirs.
He said, “We have printed the PVCs for those who registered in the first quarters of 2018. We are right now simultaneously printing for those who registered in the second and third quarters.
“We are looking at the end of November 2018 for all the PVCs to be printed, including request for transfer and relocation.”
Speaking earlier at the ECONEC meeting, Yakubu said the body was disturbed by the ever-rising cost of conducting elections and handling of pre and post election litigation.
He said, “The ever-rising costs of voter registration and the compilation of a credible voter register, recruitment and training of electoral officials, provision of electoral logistics, election security, civic and voter education, procurement of sensitive and non-sensitive materials, deployment of electoral technology, undertaking regular engagement with stakeholders and handling of pre-election and post-election litigation are enormous.
“The task of meeting such extensive expenditure has increasingly challenged the national resources of many countries in our region.”
Meanwhile, the APC has said it is not considering any legal option on the insistence of INEC to bar it from governorship, national and state assembly polls in Zamfara.
National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, said this in an interview in Abuja on Monday. He was responding to a statement credited to the INEC National Chairman, Prof. Mamood Yakubu.
Issa-Onilu said, “Is not yet time for the party to take any legal action. Nothing calls for that; we cannot be reacting to what INEC says in public.
“We know last week we got a letter from INEC stating this same position and we wrote a reply. And we are on the side of the law, we had primaries in Zamfara and we are operating within the guidelines of INEC and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“We believe that INEC does not have the correct information as of now. We stated in that letter that perhaps if they needed more information about what happened in Zamfara, we would oblige them with such information.