The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has warned political parties against acrimonious and violent congresses and primaries.
INEC threatened to boycott the exercises if its staff continued to be exposed to harm.
The commission warned that it would no longer condone unprovoked attacks on INEC workers and the destruction of its property by party members.
It urged parties to “hold themselves to the same standards they hold the commission during elections, namely, openness, fairness, adherence to rules and peaceful conduct”.
According to a statement by National Commissioner and Chairman of Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, “the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has watched with utmost dismay and profound concern the recurrent acrimony, violence and destruction of property, including the commission’s property and equipment, which have characterised some recent party congresses across the country.
“This is the season of political party congresses and conventions to elect their leaders at various levels of party organisation and INEC is mandated by law to monitor them. These meetings constitute a very important aspect of the electoral process and democracy in Nigeria”.
It continued: ”The level of violence in some of the congresses is making it difficult for the commission to exercise its statutory oversight responsibility enshrined in sections 85 and 87 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended).
“In one such congress in Kaduna, violence broke out leading to the destruction of the ballot boxes.
“Political parties are reminded that they have a clear obligation to ensure that their congresses and conventions are orderly, democratic and in accordance with extant legal framework, their own constitutions and guidelines, as well as INEC’s regulations and guidelines.
“This commission will not stand askance and watch party conventions and congresses degenerate into farcical rituals and violent fiascos that threaten lives and destroy property”.
The statement added: ‘’INEC will reconsider its involvement in these events should they continue to put lives of the public and staff of the commission at risk…there will be consequences in any situation where party 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. The commission may also withdraw its staff from monitoring such violent meetings.
“The commission wishes to remind parties of primaries to select their candidates for upcoming elections and by-elections, particularly those for Anambra State governorship election and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Area Council elections.”