15th May, 2012
Some political parties in Abuja on Tuesday alleged that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was giving preferential treatment to selective political parties.
The Deputy National Chairman of Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) Mr. Olisaemeka Akamukali, said in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that INEC officials were not making themselves accessible to party officials on administrative issues.
Akamukali said, “political parties and Electoral Commission anywhere in the world are supposed to be partners in progress, but the reverse is the case in Nigeria.
“INEC is so unfriendly to political parties in Nigeria, the distance between the INEC and the political parties is too wide.
“This is unnecessary under the democratic dispensation, INEC should be friendly with the political parties and desist from creating bad impression about itself.”
In a related development, the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) said in most cases, INEC was not carrying the political parties along in some of its activities while in most cases it gave priority to few political parties.
Mr. Osita Okecheukwu, Chairman CNPP, said, “as a political party, we are supposed to be friends of INEC, but the reverse is the case.
“More often than not, officials of the political parties are being harassed by uniformed men in INEC and sometimes, party officials are not allowed to gain entry to INEC office, this is not too good for democracy.
“There are times one will send in a request to see the INEC officers, there will be no response.
He advised INEC to remove all the barriers hindering the party officials from having free access to it and its officials.
According to the CNPP chairman, the electoral process is not being done in the open, thereby closing every opportunity for the political parties to be part of the process or have an input.
Okechukwu emphasised the need for political parties to be represented whenever INEC was printing the ballot papers.
However, INEC said the commission always gave equal opportunities to all political parties in all its activities.
Mr. Mohammed Hammanga, a National Commissioner in INEC, said some of the political parties were fond of violating the rules.
He said some of the party officials were not following the procedure whenever they had business with the organisation, adding that there were procedures for all visitors to be followed while in INEC.
Hammanga said that INEC could not involve the political parties in the printing of ballot papers due to the sensitive nature of the materials.
According to him, INEC can invite the political parties to verify, proof read and approve the ballot papers before they are printed.
He said INEC had been friendly with the political parties, but recently at a meeting in Calabar, members of the political parties walked out on INEC officials when it was time to discuss the code of conduct for the parties.
Hammanga said INEC would always bring the political parties together to argue out points and arrive at solutions in order to move the country forward.
The national commissioner urged the political parties to cooperate with INEC at all times and during this period of security challenge in the country.