The new Resident Electoral Commissioner in Ekiti State, Prof Abdul-Ganiy Raji, has warned politicians against subtle or overt campaigns ahead of the 2018 governorship poll.
Raji threatened that the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) won’t hesitate to invoke Section 99 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), which forbids electioneering campaign until 90 days to election against any political party and individuals flouting the law, no matter how highly placed.
He said the punishment for the unlawful action, which some politicians complained was common to the two major political parties in the state, the All Progressives Congress(APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), was six months jail term or N500,000 fine, if taken to court.
Raji was brought to Ekiti last month to replace Mr. Sam Olumekun, who was transferred to Edo State prior to 2015 governorship poll.
Speaking after a stakeholders’ meeting with politicians in Ado Ekiti on Wednesday, Raji said the prohibition will cover jingles being aired on the radio and television as well as the billboards erected at strategic locations, bearing the portraits of aspirants announcing or advertising their governorship intentions.
Raji’s harsh warning came to the fore sequel to complaints from some political parties that both the PDP and APC were allegedly using state and federal media to gain undue advantage.
The REC said: “I said this at the Election Security Committee being attended by heads of security outfits. The enforcement is not within our purview but the law is very clear. This is the more reason why media houses should scrutinize the jingles brought to them because the NBC is monitoring closely.
“The section said no campaigning or announcing yourself as potential aspirant or candidate until 90 days to the election. This attracts sanctions and it is constitutionally wrong”.
On the fairness craved by party leaders, Raji said: “If I or any of my staff is not ready to maintain fairness during elections, then we have no business in INEC”, he said.
Raji said the electoral umpire will be apolitical and uphold the tenets of ‘integrity, honesty, dignity, neutrality, and fairness as expected from INEC as a statutory body saddled with the conduct of elections.
The Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Hon Kola Oluwawole, charged politicians to play by the rules before, during and after the election, saying: “the moment you play the game according to the rules, there won’t be any problem
“Ekiti is a homogenous state. We are all brothers and we have no reason to fight. An election is like a football match; When a winner emerges, the opponent will embrace him. There is nothing to fight over if truly making Ekiti or Nigeria great is the main reason why we are contesting”.
At the meeting, PDP State chairman, Barr. Gboyega Oguntuase, Hon Samuel Omotoso and Bola Olu-Ojo, who spoke on behalf of the party, promised to adhere strictly to the provisions of the Electoral Act for Ekiti election to be a success.
While the APC publicity Secretary, Taiwo Olatunbosun, and Hon Kayode Babade promised that members shall be peaceful and abide by the extant rules guiding the conduct of elections to prevent violence in the state.