From Fred Itua, Abuja
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, Mahmoud Yakubu, has explained why the electoral umpire settled for February 18, 2023 as tentative date for the presidential election.
He spoke when he appeared before the Senate Committee on INEC.
“Based on the principle established by the commission, the 2023 general election will hold on Saturday, February 18, 2023 which is exactly one year, nine months, two weeks and six days or 660 days from today.”
Yakubu said the commission may roll out modalities for the conduct of the 2023 general election in December 2021 soon after the conduct of Anambra State governorship election.
“We hope to release the timetable and schedule of activities for the general election immediately after the Anambra governorship election scheduled to hold on November 6. In order to do so, there should be clarity and certainty about the electoral legal framework to govern the election. We are confident that the National Assembly will do the needful in earnest.
“No doubt, INEC is saddled with so many responsibilities ranging from the registration and regulation of political parties, registration of voters, delineation of constituencies, conduct of elections/by-elections/referendum/recall and prosecution of electoral offences, among others. The tasks are Herculean.
“Of the numerous responsibilities carried out by the commission, the prosecution of electoral offenders has been one of the most challenging. For instance, since the 2015 general election, 125 cases of electoral offences were filed in various courts out of which 60 convictions have been secured so far, including the most recent one in Akwa Ibom State.
“The commission would like to see more successful prosecution of offenders, not just of ballot box snatchers and falsifiers of election results but most importantly, their sponsors. We look forward to the day when highly placed sponsors of thuggery, including party chieftains and candidates that seek to benefit from violations of the law are apprehended. We believe that the work of the proposed commission will help in this regard.
“However, while we are excited by the public hearing, I would like to reiterate our appeal to the National Assembly for the expeditious passage of the Electoral Offences Commission (Establishment) Bill 2021 and the pending review of the electoral legal framework generallyn,” he said.