The All Progressives Congress on Sunday warned the Independent National Electoral Commission and the Police not to stop its members from campaigning for the 2015 elections, should they decide to start now.
The party said the warning became necessary in the light of what it said was the go-ahead given to President Goodluck Jonathan and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, to begin a nationwide campaign well ahead of time.
Interim National Publicity Secretary of the party, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said this in a telephone interview, with one of our correspondents in Abuja.
He explained that the party had over the last few weeks drawn the attention of all government agencies as well as INEC, to the fact that President Jonathan had been in the forefront of those flouting the electoral body’s guidelines on election campaigns.
Mohammed said by going round the country to hold campaign rallies and making clear campaign promises, the President had destroyed the moral authority of INEC or the police to enforce any law with respect to the elections.
He said, “I can assure you, we will demand equal treatment and since Mr. President can be allowed to go and campaign in Sokoto, to go and campaign in Owerri then we are sounding a notice to both INEC and Police that any attempt to deprive us of similar opportunities will be met with consequences.
“We have been trying to draw the attention of everybody it started with Bauchi, then Sokoto from Sokoto to Owerri and this is the President of Nigeria who is supposed to be an embodiment of the rule of law. In the interest of peace, fairness and equity, INEC should not disturb us whenever we also start our campaign.”
The party explained that one did not need to be a rocket scientist to know that what the President was doing was campaign.
It said it would not have been so disturbed if it were to be just PDP chieftains violating INEC regulations, but that when the President of the country who swore to uphold the rule of law and the constitution was “at the head of this kind of shenanigans then its spells doom for the country.”
In separate interviews with one of our correspondents, civil society organisations under the aegis of the Partners for Electoral Reform, have asked INEC to inspire confidence in Nigerians as the nation approaches 2015.
Members of the coalition include — Centre for Policy Advocacy and Leadership Development; Forward in Action for Education, Poverty and Malnutrition; Trade Union Congress of Nigeria; and Youth Initiative for Advocacy Growth and Advancement.
The chairman of PER and Convener of Say No Campaign (Nigeria), Mr. Ezenwa Nwagwu, said the PDP was clearly violating INEC provisions with respect to electoral campaigns with its state rallies.
He said, “We keep making the point that the Electoral management body, INEC must conduct itself in a manner that inspires confidence in the electorate ahead of the 2015 general elections by manifestly and effectively policing every aspect of elections and electoral process.
“On the other hand the position party (PDP) cannot continue to act with impunity by finding dubious ingenious ways to infract on the laws of the land.”
The Executive Secretary of Anti-Corruption Network and a former member of the House of Representatives, Mr. Dino Melaye, said the INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega should resign because INEC was behaving like a parastatal of the PDP.
“INEC is a parastatal of the PDP. They cannot question their masters. We will be ready to fight INEC in 2015. JEGA should resign. He is not capable of conducting a free and fair election,” he alleged.
Also speaking, a legal practitioner and civil rights activist, Mr. Ebun Olu- Adegboruwa, said “As the electoral umpire, INEC must provide a level playing ground for all the parties, treat them equally and give a sense of belonging to all the parties.”
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