The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said it would obey recent amendments to Electoral Act passed by National Assembly only if it was passed into law six months to the next general election.
INEC’s National Commissioner, Prof. Okechukwu Ibeanu, at a lecture at the Electoral Institute in Abuja, yesterday, said the amendment by the lawmakers was still a proposal which would need to scale through some hurdles before becoming a law.
The House of Representatives has already passed a bill on the order of the elections, fixing presidential election last. But Ibeanu, who represented the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, said as a law-abiding organisation, the commission would obey the amendment once it was signed into law.
“INEC works with the Electoral Act. If there is a legitimate amendment to the Act, INEC will have no option than to obey, but that must happen first.
“Like I said, the role of INEC is to conduct elections based on the law; if there is a legitimate amendment to the Electoral Act, INEC will obey,’’ he said. INEC in an earlier timetable fixed the presidential and National Assembly elections for February 19, 2019 and governorship and House of Assembly on March, 2019.
According to Ibeanu:”It is still a proposal by the House of Representatives. I think it is still going to enjoy concur- rence of both chambers of the National Assembly for harmonisation as well as inputs from states.”
Headded thattherewasasixmonth time frame for amendment of the Electoral Act. “Practically, there is ECOWAS protocol discouraging amendment of Electoral Act before the election in less than six months to an election and we still have more than six months.’’
Guest lecturer, Prof. Jibril Ibrahim, said that there was need for political parties to abide by internal party democracy by ensuring that only aspirant that have the highest votes at elections emerges their candidate.
He urged INEC to monitor party primaries and conventions but regretted that the commission had its hands tied with the courts order that the party has the final say on whom to give its ticket.