Edo/Ondo Polls: INEC warns against denying parties access to public facilities

INEC Headquarters

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has cautioned against denying parties access to public facilities ahead of the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States.

In a statement on Friday, INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman of Information and Voter Education Committee Sam Olumekun said it is against the law to deny parties or candidates access to public facilities for campaigns.

“Over the years, a recurring problem in Nigeria’s electioneering process has been the use of the power of incumbency to deny opposition parties and candidates access to public facilities for rallies and other campaign activities,” he said.

“These include public buildings such as sports stadiums, open spaces in public places, total denial or restricted access to state-owned media (specifically radio and television stations), the imposition of excessive levies and fees for outdoor and media advertising, and even the removal or vandalisation of billboards and posters. These actions often result in violent clashes among party supporters and a breach of public peace.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the Commission wishes to reiterate that Section 95(2) of the Electoral Act 2022 prohibits the use of State apparatus to ‘the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate at any election’.”

INEC also said that “under Section 95(3-5), it is obligatory for public media houses to allot equal coverage and visibility to all parties and candidates. Section 95(6) provides sanctions against heads of public media organisations, their principal officers, and other officials for contravention.”

The electoral umpire asked stakeholders to visit the commission’s website for the guidelines for the conduct of political rallies, processions, and campaigns.

“Consequently, the attention of all concerned is drawn to the provisions of the law and the guidelines for strict compliance,” Olumekun said.