The Independent National Electoral Commission says it is standing by its decision to hold the 2019 presidential and National Assembly elections on the same day while the governorship and state legislative elections will come next.
The Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said this at the quarterly consultative meeting with the media in Abuja on Monday.
INEC had announced last year that the presidential and National Assembly elections would hold on February 16, 2019 while the governorship, state assembly and area council elections in the Federal Capital Territory would take place on March 2, 2019.
The National Assembly, however, opposed the sequence of the election and amended the Electoral Act such that the National Assembly election would hold first while the presidential election would come last.
The bill has since been transmitted to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent.
However, the INEC boss said the commission would continue to prepare for elections based on its own schedule since it could not make plans based on speculation.
When asked if the electoral body would challenge the matter in court, the INEC boss said when the time comes the commission would take a decision.
Yakubu said, “There are many ‘ifs’ but here, we deal with certainty. As far as the commission is concerned, there is no legal lacuna at the moment. What we have done is on the basis of the existing law and nothing has changed.
“If the bill is accented to, we will look at the provisions and inform Nigerians on the next step. But as far as the commission is concerned at the moment, we are operating under the existing law and we have issued a timetable for the activities accordingly.
“If something happens tomorrow, we will examine it and proceed accordingly.”
The INEC boss said the budget for the 2019 elections had been drafted based on its own sequence and timetable.
He said the proposal would soon be transmitted to the National Assembly for approval.
“Right now, the draft is on my table based on the current schedule of activities. Thereafter, we will submit it to the approving authorities,” Yakubu said.
When asked what had happened to the 205 INEC officials that were suspended after being indicted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for allegedly receiving bribes during the 2015 elections, Yakubu said he was still waiting for the EFCC to take action.
He noted that most of the officials had not been prosecuted by the anti-graft agency, adding that he had written to the EFCC to act quickly.
Yakubu added, “The interdiction (of 205 officials) was based on the interim report we received from the EFCC. An interdicted person is placed on half pay until the person’s innocence or guilt is established.” (Punch)