2011: INEC RELEASES TIMETABLE THIS WEEK.

Barring any last-minute change of mind, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) may release the timetable for next year’s elections tomorrow.

All the political parties have up till the end of October to submit lists of their candidates for the elections, it was learnt at the weekend.

The timetable is to replace the tentative one announced by the immediate past chairman of INEC, Prof. Maurice Iwu, in March.

The INEC National Commissioner in charge of Publicity, Mr. Solomon Soyebi, told our correspondent: “A formal timetable will be announced this week, possibly early in the week”.

Pressed for further comments, he said: “We would make a categorical statement on Tuesday.”

But he declined whether Iwu’s timetable will be retained or not. Soyebi merely said: “Don’t let us speculate.”

But another INEC source, who pleaded not to be named, claimed that Iwu’s provisional timetable is no longer workable.

He added: “This commission has looked at the new Electoral Act and it has worked out its plans, which the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega, will unfold this week.

“It is only fair that the new INEC should be allowed to come up with its new plans – in line with the realities on ground.”

Responding to a question, the source said: “The provisional timetable reeled out by Iwu is no longer practicable because timelines for some events have changed.

“For instance, the provisional timetable released by Iwu indicated that the review of registration of voters should be between April 26 and July 30, 2010. The parties were expected to conduct their primaries between May 2 and July 31, 2010.

“Iwu had also envisaged that the last day for submission of nomination forms to the commission for the National Assembly poll would be September 20, 2010, governorship and state assembly elections; September 27, 2010.

The presidential poll would be on October 4, 2010.

“Most of these timelines have been overtaken by the delay in passing the Electoral Act. It is reasonable that INEC would have to come up with fresh guidelines to accommodate all activities leading to the conduct of the 2011 poll.

“Under the Electoral Act, the poll is expected to hold between December 30 and January 29. And Prof. Jega has said that the commission may opt for a middle position. So, the elections might hold between January 8 and 15.”

As at press time, there were strong indications that political parties have up till end of October or November 8 to submit names of candidates.

According to findings, the new Electoral Act has made it compelling for INEC to get the list from the parties at least 60 days before the poll date.

The INEC source cited Section 32 (1) of the 2010 Electoral Act to back his submission.

Section 32(1) says: “Every political party shall not later than 60 days before the date appointed for a general election under the provisions of this Act, submit to the Commission in the prescribed forms the list of candidates the party proposes to sponsor at the elections.”

He said other guidelines in the same Section 32 (2-7) relating to submission of list of candidates will make October ending appropriate.

Section 32(2-7) reads in part: “The list or information submitted by each candidate shall be accompanied by an affidavit sworn to by the candidate at the High Court of a State, indicating that he has fulfilled all the constitutional requirements for election into that office.

“The commission shall, within seven days of the receipt of the personal particulars of the candidate publish same in the constituency where the candidate intends to contest election.

“Any person may apply to the Commission for a copy of nomination form, affidavit and any other document submitted by a candidate at an election and the Commission shall, upon payment of a prescribed fee, issue such person with a Certified Copy of document within 14 days.

“Any person who has reasonable grounds to believe that any information given by a candidate in the affidavit or any document submitted by that candidate is false may file a suit at the High Court of a State or Federal High Court against such person seeking a declaration that the information contained in the affidavit is false.

“If the Court determines that any of the information contained in the affidavit or any document submitted by that candidate is false, the Court shall issue an order disqualifying the candidate from contesting the election.”

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