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Edo, Ondo polls: Adhere to law on equal access to public facilities for campaigns, INEC tells govs

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has released guidelines for the conduct of political rallies, processions and campaigns ahead of the Edo and Ondo states governorship polls scheduled for September 21 and November 16 respectively.

According to the Commission the guidelines have already been uploaded to the Commission’s website, www.inecnigeria.org, as well as its social media platforms.

A statement released Friday by the National Commissioner and chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, Sam Olumekun, indicated that “all concerned are directed to strictly comply with the provisions of the law and the guidelines.”

It read in part, “Following the publication of the final list of candidates for the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states, public campaigns have commenced in earnest.

“Over the years, a recurring problem in Nigeria’s electioneering 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 vandalism of billboards and posters. 

“These actions often result in violent clashes among party supporters and a breach of public peace.”

It added, “For the avoidance of doubt, the Commission wishes to reiterate that Section 95 (2) of the Electoral Act 2022 prohibits the use of state apparatus to ‘the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate at any election.’

“Furthermore, under Section 95 (3-5), it is obligatory for public media houses to allot equal coverage and visibility to all parties and candidates. Section 95 (6) provides sanctions against heads of public media organisations, their principal officers, and other officials for contravention.

“A publication containing the Commission’s guidelines for the conduct of political rallies, processions and campaigns is already uploaded to the Commission’s website, www.inecnigeria.org. For emphasis, the same document is now uploaded to our social media platforms.

“Consequently, the attention of all concerned is drawn to the provisions of the law and the guidelines for strict compliance.”

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