By Joy Odor
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has fixed 12th February 2022 as the date for the conduct of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Area Councils Election.
This followed the three-year tenure expiration of the Six Chairmen and Sixty-two Councillors in May 2022 and by the powers conferred on lNEC by the Constitution, the Electoral Act and all other powers enabling it to conduct the election.
The National Commissioner & Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Barrister Festus Okoye Esq disclosed this in a press statement in Abuja on Wednesday after the Commission’s meeting on a wide range of issues including the issuance of the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the conduct of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Area Councils Election.
He noted that FCT is the only part of the Country where INEC is responsible for the conduct of Local Government electionb, saying Section 108(1) & (3) and 113(1)(a) &(b) of the Electoral Act 2010(as amended) election into all Area Councils shall be held on the same date and time throughout the Federal Capital Territory.
“This shall take place not earlier than one hundred and fifty (150) days before and not later than thirty (30) days before the expiration of the term of office of the last holder of that office.
“Section 113 of the Electoral Act, an Area Council shall stand dissolved at the expiration of a three (3) year period, starting from the date the Chairman took the Oath of Office, or when the legislative arm of the Council was inaugurated whichever is earlier.
“The Chairmen and Councillors of the Area Councils were elected on the 9th March 2019 and sworn in on the 19th May 2019 and by paragraph 1© of the Commissions Guidelines and Regulations “ where the end of the tenure of FCT Area Council does not coincide with a General election year, the election to the office of the Chairman, Vice-Chairman and Councillors of the Area Councils shall hold on Saturday closest to 100 days to the end of the tenure of the elected officials of the Area Councils.”
“In the exercise of the powers conferred on it by the Constitution, the Electoral Act and all other powers enabling it in that regard, the Commission has fixed 12th February 2022 as the date for the conduct of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Area Councils Election. Consequently, the Commission hereby issues the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the election.
“By the Timetable and Schedule of Activities, the Commission will issue the statutory Notice of Election on 31st March 2021. The Collection of Forms EC9 (Formerly CF001) and EC9B (Formerly CF002) for the election will take place on 1st April, 2021 and the conduct of party primaries and resolution of disputes arising from the primaries will take place on 1st -24th April 2021. The Personal Particulars of the candidates will be published on 5th June 2021 and the parties will commence campaigns on 14th November 2021. The Final List of Nominated Candidates will be published on 11th January, 2022.
“The Commission enjoins all the registered political parties to pay close attention to the timelines and schedule of activities outlined in the Timetable and Schedule of Activities as they are constitutional and statutorily provisions.
The INEC National Commissioner enjoined political parties to conduct rancour-free primaries, guarantee level playing field for all aspirants and conduct necessary due diligence on all forms and documents that will be submitted to the Commission.
Barrister Okoye expressed the Commission’s concerned about the spate of acrimonious primaries as well as the nomination of unqualified candidates, which results in avoidable litigations, and the nullification of elections by Election Petition Tribunals.
He urged all the stakeholders to support the Commission’s efforts to strengthen the electoral process, including the deployment of technology to deliver free, fair and credible elections.
The detailed timetable and schedule of activities has been uploaded in the Commissions website and social media handles.