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2023 Campaign: INEC Warns Parties, Candidates Against Hate Speech, Abuse

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has warned the 18 registered political parties fielding candidates for the 2023 general elections to desist from any form of abusive words or hate speeches.

The Chairman of the commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, gave the warning on Monday in Lagos at the ongoing two-day media capacity building workshop on the commission’s progress, innovations, preparations for the 2023 general elections and critical issues in the Electoral Act 2022.

The event was organised by the INEC, European Union (EU) and DAI.

Prof. Yakubu represented by the National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee of INEC, Festus Okoye, specifically urged all the registered parties to critically study and pay attention to the provisions of the Constitution, Electoral Act, Police Act and Public Order Act for proper and peaceful conduct of political campaigns, rallies and processions.

He also charged the media on equal coverage and visibility to all political parties.

“A political campaign or slogan shall not be tainted with abusive language directly or indirectly likely to injure religious, ethnic, tribal or sectional feelings. Abusive, intemperate, slanderous or base language or innuendoes designed or likely to provoke violent reactions or emotions shall not be employed or used in political campaigns.

“Let me also remind the media of their constitutional and legal obligations. State apparatus including the media shall not be employed to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate at any election. In other words, equal coverage and visibility shall be allotted to all political parties by all public print and electronic media organisations.

“The same applies in equal measure to privately owned media organisations subject to payment of appropriate fees,” Yakubu said.

The INEC boss said that the commission had entered a critical phase in the electoral process, as it had undertaken eight out of the 14 items on the Calendar and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 General Election.

He said, “On 20th September 2022, the commission released the final list of Candidates standing nominated for national elections (presidential and vice-presidential candidates, Senatorial and House of Representative Candidates).

“On 4th October 2022, the Commission will release the final list of candidates standing nominated in relation to state elections (governorship, deputy governorship and state assemblies). On 28th September 2022 presidential and National Assembly campaigns will start while that of governorship and state assembly candidates will start on 12th October 2022. The commission will continue to adhere to set timelines in carrying out its activities.”