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Nigeria’s Electoral Body Fixes Permanent Dates For 2019 Elections

That means that in 2019, the Presidential and National Assembly elections will hold on February 16, and the others on March 2.

Nigeria’s presidential election will from now on be contested on the third Saturday of February in the election year alongside National Assembly races, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced on Thursday.  

Speaking at a press briefing, Prince Solomon Soyebi, National Commissioner (South West) said those elections will be followed two weeks later by Governorship/State Assembly/Federal Capital Territory Area Council elections.  

That means that in 2019, the Presidential and National Assembly elections will hold on February 16, and the others on March 2.

The commissioner said the plan was motivated by the fact that Nigeria’s democracy is maturing and the Commission believes that there should be a clear timetable for elections. He gave examples of the United States, Ghana, Mexico, Norway, Sweden, Costa Rica and Switzerland as countries where such dates are also known in advance.

“In Nigeria, the constitution provides for elections to hold not earlier than 150 days and not later than 30 days to the end of the incumbent’s tenure,” he observed. “In order to ensure certainty in our dates for elections, and to allow for proper planning by the Commission, political parties, security agencies, candidates and all stakeholders, the Commission has decided to fix the date for the National Elections for the third Saturday in February of the election year, followed by State elections two weeks later.”

Prince Soyebi also announced the receipt of a report from the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) of the Federation stating that 23 Electoral Officers indicted over the investigation into the 10th December Rivers Re-run elections have been charged to court. 

“The Commission has repeatedly said that it will cooperate with security agencies for the prosecution of any of our staff found to have violated the integrity of the electoral process,” he said, adding that the commission will apply the provisions of the INEC Terms and Conditions of Service to all those charged to court, as a matter of gross misconduct. 

“The penalty for this is interdiction,” he declared.  “All the 23 Electoral Officers will be placed on half salary and will not report for duty pending the determination of their respective cases by the court.”

Prince Soyebi also said that the commission has deferred a decision concerning those staff members indicted by the EFCC Report for misconduct during the 2015 General Elections.  It had announced that decision would be taken this week.  He explained that some of those members are also among those being prosecuted by the DPP, the decision to defer will enable the commission to reconcile the EFCC/DPP reports.

“We wish to assure all Nigerians that the Commission will remain fully committed to the sanctity of the electoral process and will never protect any of its staff, no matter highly placed, found to have violated the provisions of the Electoral Act and our guidelines,” he declared.