The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has issued a stern warning to the ruling parties in Edo and Ondo states, cautioning them against unfair treatment of opposition parties in the upcoming governorship elections scheduled for September and November respectively.

In a statement released by Sam Olumekun, the National Commissioner & Chairman of the Information and Voter Education Committee, INEC emphasized the need for sitting governors to refrain from abusing their power of incumbency by denying opposition parties and candidates access to public facilities for rallies and other campaign activities.

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Highlighting past incidents of unjust practices, including denial or restricted access to state-owned media, imposition of exorbitant levies and fees for advertising, and even the removal or destruction of campaign materials, INEC reiterated that such actions are clear violations of the provisions set forth in the Electoral Act 2022.

The statement further reads, “With the publication of the final list of candidates for the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States, public campaigns have commenced in earnest.

It is essential to address the recurring problem of using the power of incumbency to suppress opposition parties and hinder their access to public facilities.

These actions not only undermine the democratic process but also contribute to violent clashes among party supporters and a breach of public peace.”

To reaffirm the regulations, INEC emphasized that Section 95(2) of the Electoral Act 2022 explicitly prohibits the use of state resources to favor or disadvantage any political party or candidate during elections.

Additionally, under Section 95(3-5), public media outlets are obliged to provide equal coverage and visibility to all parties and candidates. Section 95(6) also outlines sanctions for heads of public media organizations and their officials in case of non-compliance.

This warning from INEC serves as a reminder of the importance of fair play and equal opportunities in the electoral process, promoting a level playing field for all candidates and parties involved.