The Independent National Electoral Commission says it may henceforth sanction political parties whose primaries, congresses or conventions are characterized by violence and destruction of property.
It expressed worries over incidence of violence and attendant destruction of property that had characterized recent political party congresses across the country, saying such developments make it difficult for the commission to carry out its statutory oversight responsibility as enshrined in the Electoral Act 2010.
In a statement on Monday by the National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, INEC warned that it would no longer fold its arms and watch party conventions and congresses degenerate into “farcical rituals and violent fiascos that threaten lives and destroy property.”
It particularly cited one such congress in Kaduna recently where violence broke out leading to the destruction of the commission’s ballot boxes.
It warned that henceforth, there will be sanctions against parties whose congresses and conventions degenerate into violence and destruction of INEC property.
“Apart from replacing such destroyed materials, parties may be blacklisted from the receipt of INEC materials for their activities in the future.
“The commission may also withdraw its staff from monitoring such violent political party meetings, with the resultant non-recognition of their outcomes,” it said.
It reminded political parties planning to organize primaries and by-elections, particularly the Anambra State governorship election and the Federal Capital Territory Area Council elections, to stick to the respective timetable and schedule of activities as released by the commission
Parties, it stressed, must ensure that their primaries are peaceful and orderly.
“INEC remains deeply concerned about the acrimony and violence within parties such that there are now more suits in various courts of law arising from party congresses and primaries than from elections conducted by the commission.
“Still, the commission will continue to work with political parties in support of their internal functioning in order to build strong and democratic parties in Nigeria,” it added.