Presidential poll for Feb. 16, 2019
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday released the timetable for the 2019 general elections.
The presidential and national assembly elections will hold on February 16, 2019, the governorship/state assembly/Federal Capital Territory Area Council Elections will hold on March 2, 2019.
INEC said it had sanctioned 23 of its staff by placing them on interdiction following their implication in the N360million Rivers State rerun bribe.
Based on the receipt of advice from the Director of Public Prosecution(DPP), the 23 officials will face trial.
The disciplinary action is indefinite until their trial is concluded.
The officials will not be allowed to come to the office, but will receive half-salary during the interdiction.
Action on the 202 employees who were indicted in the 2015 poll has been deferred.
These measures were the outcome of the management meeting of INEC on its plans and outstanding disciplinary matters.
The National Commissioner (In charge of South West), Prince Solomon Soyebi, who announced the measures, said the early announcement of timetable was in line with international best practices.
He said: “ Our democracy is maturing and the Commission believes that there should be certainty with regard to the timetable for elections. For instance, in the United States, general elections always hold on the second Tuesday of November in the election year.
“ In Ghana, it’s the 7th of December of the election year, while in other places like Mexico, Norway, Sweden, Costa Rica and Switzerland, the dates are also known in advance.
”In Nigeria, the constitution provides for elections to hold not earlier than 150 days and not later than 30 days to the end of the incumbent’s tenure.
“In order to ensure certainty in our dates for elections, and to allow for proper planning by the Commission, political parties, security agencies, candidates and all stakeholders, the Commission has decided to fix the date for the National Elections for the third Saturday in February of the election year, followed by State elections two weeks later.
“ To that extent, the 2019 Presidential and National Assembly elections will hold on Saturday, 16th February 2019, while the Governorship/State Assembly/Federal Capital Territory Area Council Elections will hold on Saturday 2nd March 2019.”
On outstanding disciplinary matter, Soyebi said 23 officials will face trial for alleged N360million Rivers re-run bribe.
He said the staff had been placed on interdiction pending the outcome of their trial.
But INEC has suspended its decision on disciplinary action against 202 others who were indicted in the N23.29billion poll bribery scam during the 2015 general elections.
Soyebi said: “ The Commission has also received a report from the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) of the Federation, informing us that 23 Electoral Officers indicted over the investigation into the 10th December Rivers rerun elections have been charged to court.
“The Commission has repeatedly said that it will cooperate with security agencies for the prosecution of any of our staff found to have violated the integrity of the electoral process. “Accordingly, at our meeting today, the Commission decided to apply the provisions of the INEC Terms and Conditions of Service to all those charged to court, since it constitutes gross misconduct.
“The penalty for this is interdiction. All the 23 Electoral Officers will be placed on half salary and will not report for duty pending the determination of their respective cases by the court.
On the 202 staff, he said INEC had deferred its decision on the 2015 poll bribery scam to enable it to reconcile the EFCC report and DPP’s advice.
He said: “ Ladies and gentlemen, you will recall that last week, we informed you that a decision would be taken this week on the recommendation by the Disciplinary Committee on staff members indicted by the EFCC Report for misconduct during the 2015 General Elections. “However, in view of the fact that some of the staff are also among those being prosecuted by the DPP, the Commission has decided to defer its decision on the EFCC Report to enable us reconcile the EFCC/DPP reports.”