Ahead of governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States fixed for September 19 and October 10, 2020 respectively, the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) has said it would not extend dates for the primaries.
The commission’s National Chairman, Professor Mahmoud Yakubu made the declaration on Friday at a meeting with Resident Electoral Commissioners(RECs).
Yakubu said nomination of candidates for the governorship election in Edo State must be held from 2nd to 27th of June 2020, while parties must stick to 2nd to 25th July timelines for the same process in Ondo State.
He further advised political parties to respect their party guidelines while promoting internal democracy to avoid acrimonious primaries in selection of candidates.
He said:”As stated earlier, governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States are holding later in the year. Given recent experience with some governorship elections, political parties need to do more to avoid the conduct of acrimonious primaries or failure to observe due diligence in the screening of their candidates, resulting in protracted litigations and eventual determination of the outcome of elections by orders of court.
“I wish to draw the attention of political parties to two critical dates in the timetable released by the commission a few weeks ago. Party primaries for the democratic election and nomination of candidates for the governorship election in Edo State must be held from 2nd to 27th June, 2020. The date for Ondo State is 2nd to 25th July, 2020. The Commission will not extend the dates. We will also rigorously monitor the primaries and where necessary, apply sanctions as provided by law.”
The Commission also declared vacant two senatorial seats in the 9th Senate.
Professor Yakubu said bye elections would be conducted in Bayelsa Central and Bayelsa West Senatorial Districts.
He told the RECs and newsmen that the development was sequel to the notification received by the commission from the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan.
Recall that Senator Douye Diri from Bayelsa Central has since emerged the governor of Bayelsa State, following the Supreme Court judgement which voided the victory of the All Progressives Congress(APC) candidate, David Lyon and his deputy, Senator Biobarakuma Degi.
The latter was the Senator representing Bayelsa East while Senator Lawrence Ewhruojakpo representing Bayelsa West has equally emerged as deputy governor to Diri.
The INEC chairman however said the commission would soon fix a date for the by-election in the state.
”In compliance with the orders of the Supreme Court, the Commission has presented Certificates of Return in respect of the governorship elections in Imo and Bayelsa States. In the case of Bayelsa State, both the governor and deputy governor were serving Senators. Consequently, the Commission yesterday, Thursday 20th February 2020 received two communications from the Senate President declaring the seats for Bayelsa Central and Bayelsa West Senatorial Districts vacant. The Commission will soon meet to determine the dates for by-elections in the two senatorial districts.”