FCT Polls: PVCs Ready for Collection as 6 bye-elections hold – INEC

Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner (Voter Education)

By Harry Awurumibe, Editor Abuja Bureau

Apparently aware of the anxiety of many residents to get their voting cards, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has announced that  Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) for all new registrants and those that requested transfers and replacement of damaged cards in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have been printed and are now available for collection.

Also following the declaration of vacancies by the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Speakers of some State Houses of Assembly, the Commission has also scheduled bye-elections for six constituencies in four states for Saturday, February 26, 2022. 

The Commission has also said this year’s first Stakeholders engagements are to hold between January 18 to 21 in the FCT.

According to a statement signed by the Chairman of Information and Voter Education Committee (IVEC), National Commissioner, Barrister Festus Okoye, the Commission took the decisions after its regular weekly meeting held on Thursday, January 13 and an extraordinary meeting held on Friday, January 14, at which it reviewed preparations for the Area Council elections in the FCT scheduled for Saturday, February 12, 2022 and other outstanding elections for the year.

The statement revealed that 475 candidates sponsored by all 18 registered political parties are vying for 68 constituencies involving six Area Council Chairmanship and 62 Councillorship positions in the FCT Area Council elections. The Commission urged citizens in the FCT who applied for new registration, transfers and replacement of their PVCs to collect them immediately and avoid the last-minute rush as experienced in the past.

Okoye listed the outstanding six bye-elections as Akure North/Akure South Federal Constituency, Ondo State; Jos North/Bassa Federal Constituency, Plateau State; Pankshin South State Constituency, Plateau State; Ogoja/Yala Federal Constituency, Cross River State; Akpabuyo State Constituency, Cross River State; and Ngor-Okpala State Constituency, Imo State.

The National Commissioner noted that some of the vacancies arose due to the death of previous occupants, substantial disruption of the electoral process and fulfilment of constitutional and legal requirements in the electoral process.

His words: “The Commission considered the issues that led to the vacancies and the rescheduling of some of the elections as well as the security situation in some of the States. The Commission decided to combine the Ekiti East 1 State Constituency election with the Governorship election in Ekiti, which will hold on June 18, 2022 (and) is consulting with security agencies and the critical stakeholders relating to the vacancy in Shinkafi State Constituency of Zamfara State, while the Speaker of the Kaduna State House of Assembly has not declared a vacancy concerning Giwa State Constituency of Kaduna State.”

According to Okoye, the official notification for the elections will be published on Monday, January 24, 2022. Political Parties are expected to conduct their primaries, including resolution of disputes arising from the primaries between 26th January and 5th February 2022, while the last day for submission of list of nominated candidates is at 6pm on the February 9, 2022. This must be done through the Commission’s online nomination portal. Political Parties must submit the names of their Polling Agents for the election to the Electoral Officer of the Local Government on or before February 12, 2022, and campaigns shall stop on February 24, 2022. The Access Code for the nomination forms shall be available for collection from 5th February 2022 at the Commission’s headquarters.

The IVEC Chairman affirmed that political parties fielding candidates for the bye-elections must comply with the activities and timelines set out in the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the conduct of the bye-election and conduct transparent and valid direct or indirect primaries in accordance with the dictates of sections 85 and 87 of the Electoral Act 2010 [As amended]. 

He insisted that the aspirant with the highest number of votes at the end of voting shall be declared the winner of the party’s primary. After that, the aspirant’s name must be forwarded to the Commission as the party’s candidate. 

Okoye warned: “political parties that present the name of a candidate that does not meet the qualifications stipulated in the Constitution and the Electoral Act to the Commission shall be guilty of an offence and on conviction,  liable to a maximum fine of N500,000.00.” 

On the Stakeholder Engagements, he said the meetings would hold as follows:  Political Parties  – Tuesday 18th January 2022; Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) – Wednesday 19th January 2022; Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) – Thursday 20th January 2022; and Media Organisations – Friday 21st January 2022.

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