Connect with us

Politics

INEC To Political Parties, Candidates, Others: Let Campaigns Be Guided By Law

Published

on

Ahead of the 2023 elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, urged political parties, candidates, the media and other stakeholders to operate within the confines of the laws.

The National Chairman, INEC, Prof Mahmood Yakubu gave the advice at a “Sensitization Forum for Broadcasters and Other Stakeholders on Fair and Responsible Coverage the 2023 General Elections organized by the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, held on Monday in Abuja.

Yakubu noted that the meeting came at the right time very close to the 2023 Presidential and National Assembly elections holding in just 151 days on Saturday 25th February 2023, followed by the Governorship and State Assembly elections two weeks later on Saturday 11th March 2023, among other electoral activities.

The INEC Boss who pointed out that in the next two days, campaign by political parties in public as provided by Section 94(1) of the Electoral Act 2022 will officially commence nationwide, called for adherence to electoral laws by political parties, candidates and the media among other political gladiators.

He said,”The 2023 Presidential and National Assembly elections holding in just 151 days on Saturday 25th February 2023, followed by the Governorship and State Assembly elections two weeks later on Saturday 11th March 2023, among other electoral activities.

This means that over the next five months or so, political parties, candidates and their supporters will traverse the country canvassing for votes. They will engage in media appearances and hold town hall meetings, door to door campaigns, rallies and processions. This period is often characterised by excitement as well as anxiety.

“Therefore, political parties, candidates and their supporters as well as the media have a responsibility to operate within the confines of the law and the provisions of the Commission’s rules and regulations. Issue-based campaign is essential for safe electioneering.

“In turn, this will create the atmosphere for the successful deployment and conduct of all electoral activities. Campaigns should be devoid of hate speech; abusive, intemperate, or slanderous language; insinuations or innuendoes likely to provoke violent reaction; physical attack on supporters of one party by another or destruction of campaign materials etc.

“More specifically, Section 95 of the Electoral Act 2022 defines the responsibilities of political parties and candidates, the media and public institutions. It also provides sanctions for violations. For instance, in the course of our numerous interactions with political parties over the years, many have complained about the denial of access to public facilities for meetings and rallies, exorbitant charges for signages and billboards, and equal access to State media.

” Using the power of incumbency to deny opposition parties access to public facilities is illegal. Section 95 Subsections 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 are unambiguous and worth quoting verbatim as follows:

“95(2) “State apparatus including the media shall not be employed to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate at any election.”

“95(3) “Media time shall be allocated equally among the political parties and candidates at similar hours of the day.”

“95(4) “At any public electronic media, equal airtime shall be allotted to all political parties or candidates during prime times at similar hours each day, subject to the payment of appropriate fees.”

“95(5) “At any public print media, equal coverage and visibility shall be allotted to all political parties.”

He further stated,”Failure to comply with the provisions of the law attracts sanctions against both the media organisation and its principal officers as clearly provided for in Section 95(6) as follows:

“95(6) “A person who contravenes subsections (3) and (4) commits an offence and is liable on conviction, in the case of –

“(a) a public media, to a fine of N2,000,000 in the first instance and N5,000,000 for subsequent conviction; and

“(b) principal officers and other officers of the media house, to a fine of N1,000,000 or imprisonment for a term of six months.”

Yakubu stressed that as campaigns start, the media has a huge responsibility.

“We have all been talking about issue-based campaigns. I believe that the media has a critical role to play in this respect.

“Equitable access to the media for all political parties and candidates is essential to the promotion of issue-based campaigns.

“By doing so, the media will also steer the discussion and engage the candidates away from the mundane to the critical issues that matter to citizens.

“Consequently, the public will be in a better position to make informed decisions on Election Day,” he said.

He added,”Beyond the commencement of campaigns by political parties, I would like to seize this opportunity to appeal to the media to continue to fact-check stories before going to press. Politics is an intensely partisan activity. The media and INEC stand for neutrality.

“I urge you to continue to abide by the ethics of the profession anchored on the law, the regulations and guidelines published by INEC and the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) Code.

“I wish to assure you that we will continue to engage with the NBC and broadcast stations. We will, as always, continue to provide you with the necessary information to make your work of informing and educating citizens easier.”

He reiterated their commitment to the nation that the Commission will do everything within its power to ensure that the 2023 General Election is free, fair, credible, transparent, inclusive and verifiable.

Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Breaking News...