Ahead of the conduct of 2019 general elections, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu Tuesday warned that announcement of dates for the polls was not a signal for political parties to commence campaigns.
The INEC released tentative dates for conduct of Presidential, Governorship and National Assembly for February 2019.
Prof Yakubu gave the warning at a quarterly consultative media meeting, in Abuja, saying early campaign would breach Electoral Act and the Constitution of the country.
Yakubu said the fact that the commission had released the dates for the elections did not give politicians or political parties the permission to start soliciting for electoral support saying “Fixing the dates and release of timetable does not mean commencement of political campaign.
“I want to use this opportunity to draw the attention of political parties and politicians that are already going round the country campaigning that INEC, the only agency empowered to release schedule of activities, has not done so.
“Anything that anybody does now in that regard is illegal, against the law. They should wait for the timetable of the elections,” he said.
The INEC chairman disclosed that the commission was already working on the budget for the general elections.
“As you are aware, we have concluded the strategic plan. We are now working on the Election Project Plan, which we hope to conclude by this time next week.
“Once we conclude the Election Project Plan, a number of activities will commence; one of them is the election budget. We are working to know how much 2019 election will cost this country.
“We will not be able to give you a figure now because we are working on the project plan,’’ he said.
On underage voters, Yakubu said that INEC would never register any underage person or allow such people to vote during elections.
He explained that picture of underage voters on queue during elections, which went virile in the social media, was discovered to be those queuing for their aged parents or pregnant mothers.
He, however, said that it was the responsibility of all stakeholders in ensuring that such was not allowed in the electoral process.