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INEC backtracks, permits resumption of political campaigns

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has again announced the lifting of the ban on political campaigns despite initial hesitation.

A press statement by Festus Okoye, National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, issued on Monday, stated that the commission arrived at the decision after reviewing its preparations for the elections, and consulting with political parties.

The campaigns are expected to end officially by midnight on Thursday, February 21, 2019.

The INEC chairman, Professor Yakubu Mahmood at a meeting with stakeholders on Saturday had declined permission for fresh campaigns following the postponement of the presidential and national assembly elections on Saturday 16 February till 23 February.

The two major political parties, the All Progressives Congress and the People’s Democratic Party have criticised the administrative ban and vowed to campaign before the new date for the election.

However, in a statement signed by  Okoye, the Commission has approved that campaigns by parties and candidates can resume forthwith to end by midnight of Thursday, 21st February 2019.

INEC also thanked Nigerians for their understanding with regards to the rescheduling of the elections, just as it appealed to stakeholders to be “dispassionate and circumspect in their comments”.

“The Commission is focusing on the elections to be held on 23rd February and 9th March to ensure that they are free, fair and credible. We urge all Nigerians to participate fully in the elections, notwithstanding the disappointment,” the statement reads.

A press conference on the updated preparations is scheduled for Tuesday, February 19, at the International Conference Centre in Abuja at 3 pm.

INEC had shifted the presidential and national assembly elections earlier scheduled for February 16 to February 23 over logistics challenges. The governorship and state assembly elections have also been shifted from March 2 to March 9.

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