• Wednesday, June 12, 2024
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INEC warns against abusive language as campaign starts Wednesday

Civil society groups urge INEC to explain ‘step aside’ order on Abia REC

Ahead of the commencement of the presidential campaign on Wednesday, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has warned that a political message or slogan must not be tainted with abusive language directly or indirectly likely to injure religious, ethnic, tribal or sectional feelings.

INEC also said abusive, intemperate, slanderous or base language or innuendoes designed or likely to provoke violent reactions or emotions shall not be employed or used in political campaigns.

Mahmood Yakubu, the INEC chairman threw the caution at a two-day capacity-building workshop for INEC Press Corp Members on critical issues in the Electoral Act, 2022 and the Commission’s Processes, Innovations, Preparations for the 2023 General Election in Abuja on Monday.

Yakubu, represented by Festus Okoye, INEC national commissioner in charge of voter education and publicity, reminded the media of their constitutional and legal obligations, saying state apparatus including the media shall not be employed to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate at any election.

“In other words, equal coverage and visibility shall be allotted to all political parties by all public print and electronic media organisations. The same applies in equal measure to private owned media organisations subject to payment of appropriate fees,” he said.

The INEC chairman urged all the 18 registered political parties to critically study and pay attention to the provisions of the Constitution, the Electoral Act, the Police Act and the Public Order Act for the proper and peaceful conduct of political campaigns, rallies and processions.

While assuring Nigerians that the commission will deploy and continue to deploy appropriate technology for the conduct of elections, he reiterated that the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and INEC Result Viewing Portal (IreV) will be deployed for the conduct of the 2023 general election.

Read also: Campaign: What we want to hear from politicians – Nigerians

“We will continue to use technology to improve and enhance the credibility of elections in Nigeria. Our goal is electoral justice where every Nigerian will experience electoral fulfilment.

“As I have pointed out, the Commission has entered the critical phase in the electoral process. As of today, the Commission has undertaken 8 out of the 14 items on the Calendar and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 General Election.

“On 20th September 2022, the Commission released the Final List of Candidates standing nominated for National Elections (Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates, Senatorial and House of Representative Candidates).

“On 4th October 2022, the Commission will release the Final List of candidates standing nominated in relation to State Elections (Governorship, Deputy Governorship and State Assemblies).

“On 28th September 2022 Presidential and National Assembly campaigns will start while that of Governorship and State Assembly candidates will start on 12th October 2022. The Commission will continue to adhere to set timelines in carrying out its activities,” Yakubu said.

The chairman said the cleaning up of the voter register using the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) is almost finalised and INEC will engage with stakeholders relating to its findings before displaying the register for claims and objections as required by law.

“The Commission is conscious that a credible voter register is a basic requirement for the conduct of a credible election. We have therefore devoted time and energy to cleaning up of the voter register using the ABIS.

“This process is almost finalised and the Commission will engage with stakeholders relating to its findings before displaying the register for claims and objections as required by law. Furthermore, the Commission is working out a protocol for seamless collection of Permanent Voters Cards by valid registrants,” he said.

Denis Mutabazi, monitoring and evaluation expert DAI/European Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EUSDGN) programme phase 11, organisers of the workshop said, the event is a crucial demonstration of INEC’s strong commitment to transparency, and in ensuring that the public is and remains well informed about the commission’s stewardship of the electoral process.

“DAI is honoured to be leading implementation of the 1st Component of European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EUSDGN) which aims to support INEC in its endeavours to improve the quality of electoral administration in Nigeria, and ultimately, foster a functioning, pluralistic, inclusive, participatory, and representative democracy in Nigeria.

“DAI and the EUSDGN are very pleased and excited to be part of this two-day capacity-building workshop on INEC’s processes, innovations, preparations for the 2023 general election, and critical issues in the electoral act 2022 for Press Corps members. The event also demonstrates the importance and critical role of the Fourth Estate in amplifying INEC’s public outreach and awareness-raising endeavours.

“I hope that the Press Corps members invited to this event, but also the entire press fraternity in Nigeria will find this two-day capacity-building workshop greatly beneficial to the widest extent and that in particular, it will be a very nice source of electoral facts and evidence to inform your journalistic work,” Mutabazi said.

Earlier, Olusegun Agbaje, the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Lagos State, said as the clock gradually clicks towards the 2023 general election, the media have a supreme call and duty to; mobilise, sensitise and enlighten the electorate on all electoral processes by educating them on their responsibilities to perform their civic roles to vote for any candidate of their choice in all elective posts.

He said the media can also, “address the issue of voter apathy and poor voter turnout in elections in Nigeria by rallying the electorate to perform their civic responsibilities.

“Educate voters to vote appropriately to avoid an incidence of high records of invalid ballots at the election; ensure that the game of politics is played in accordance with the enabling laws, rules and guidelines.

“Lay bare the manifestoes of political parties through robust engagement with parties and candidates to assist voters to make informed choices at the election; checkmate the current trend of fake news and sensational reportage of events; educate the citizens on the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022, as well as the rules and regulations guiding the election.”