Mahmoud Yakub, INEC Chairman

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it will continue to register any association that meet legal requirements for registration as political party ahead of 2019 general elections.

Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed this on Sunday in Lagos.

Yakubu, however, said that any party registered six months to the general elections would not be allowed to participate in the elections.

“Once associations meet the legal requirements as political parties, the commission is under obligation to register them, but the law also provides for a period of six months to general elections.

“It states that any association registered as a political party six months to the election cannot participate in the general elections.

“We have 68 political parties at the moment. As at last week, we had received applications from 130 associations for registration as political parties.

“So, we will continue to register political parties based on the position of the law.”

He noted that as part of its duties, the commission would do what the law required of it, saying “if we don’t, they will go to the court and the court will order the commission to register them as political parties.

“But, we will not allow the commission to be dragged to court over a matter which we have responsibility under the law. So, we will continue to do the needful.”

On why INEC was yet to conduct bye-election to fill vacancies created by death of some lawmakers, Yakubu said the commission was yet to receive notification of those vacancies.

He said that while INEC had the responsibility to conduct bye-elections to fill vacancies in National Assembly and state Houses of Assembly, it had to be notified of such vacancies.

At the moment there are three vacancies in the National Assembly and two in House of Assembly of two states.

The Senate lost Sen. Ali Wakili (Bauchi South) in March and Sen. Mustapha Bukar (Kastina North) in April while House of Representatives lost Buba Jubril (Lokoja/Koto Constituency), Kogi.

Taraba House of Assembly lost Hosea Ibi (Takun I Constituency) in January and Stephen Ukpukpen of Obudu I Constituency, Cross River House of Assembly died in March.

Yakubu said the procedure for bye-election was that the presiding officers of the various legislative houses would communicate to the commission declaring vacancy “on the basis on which INEC will conduct bye-elections.

“The law says once we receive such a declaration of vacancy the commission must conduct bye-election within 30 days.

“As soon as we receive the communication, INEC will kick start the process that will lead to the conduct of bye-elections.

“Remember we received such a communication in respect of Ibarapa East State Constituency in Oyo state, caused by the unfortunate death of the former Speaker of Oyo State House of Assembly, who died recently.

“We have since conducted the bye-election to fill the vacancy. So we are waiting for communication.”

He said that INEC was in touch with the presiding officers, particularly of Taraba House of Assembly and the Speaker of the House of Representatives and President of the Senate.

“We hope very soon appropriate communication will be convened to the commission on the basis to which we conduct bye-elections.”

Yakubu said that as a matter of procedure, INEC had already instructed its Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) in the affected states to commence background preparations.

“So, as soon as we receive the vacancies, we will kick-start the process.”