Following the postponement of the General elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission, by one week, INEC directed that political parties should not continue with campaigns, contrary to the provisions of the Electoral Act.
However, the outcry of parties against INEC’s decision compelled the commission to reverse itself and directed that parties and candidates could resume ahead of the national elections scheduled for Saturday.
The commission in a statement issued on Monday in Abuja by INEC National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr Festus Okoye, said that such campaigns must end by midnight of Thursday.
Okoye said that the decision was taken at the commission’s meeting on Monday where it reviewed its preparations for the General Elections re-scheduled for Saturday Feb. 23 for the Presidential and National Assembly election, and March 9 for Govemorship, State Houses of Assembly and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Area Council Elections.
The INEC Cahirman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, at meeting with stakeholders where he gave reasons for re-scheduling the polls and released a new schedule of Activities leading up to the elections, had said that there was no more room for campaigns and collection of Permanent Voter Cards.
Okoye said that after consultations with political parties, the commission approved that campaigns by parties and candidates could resume forthwith, and end by midnight of Thursday.
“Media organisations are at liberty to accept, Publish, Broadcast and circulate campaign materials up till midnight of Thursday, Feb. 21.
“Political Parties and their candidates are enjoined to abide by the extant laws governing campaigns,” he said.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) had said that the earlier decision of the commission contravened the Electoral Act, adding that they would resume campaigns.
Okoye added that the Commission had also worked out in detail, concrete steps to be taken to ensure that election materials arrived at the polling units in good time for prompt commencement of the polls on Feb. 23.
He added that an update would be provided by the Commission at a press conference on Tuesday, at the Abuja International Conference Centre at 3 p.m.
“The Commission wishes to thank all Nigerians for their understanding regarding the rescheduling of the elections.
“We appeal to stakeholders to be dispassionate and circumspect In their comments.
“The Commission is focusing on the elections to be held on Feb. 23 and March 9 to ensure that they are free, fair and credible.
“We urge all Nigerians to participate fully in the elections, notwithstanding the disappointment,” the commissioner said.