- ‘He is breaching the electoral laws to his advantage’
New billboards urging Nigerian voters to vote for President Goodluck Jonathan in the 2015 presidential election have sprang up at strategic corners of Abuja against repeated warnings by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to politicians not to commence campaign before the stipulated time.
Some of the billboards were sighted at the roundabout adjourning Shehu Shagari Way and Ibrahim Babangida Boulevard in the Maitama District as well as the Ahmadu Bello Way/Kur Mohammed Street junction (opposite This Day Dome) in the Central Business District of the federal capital territory.
Unlike the previous ones scattered around the country, the new billboards, sponsored by a group, Jonathan Actualization Movement, JAM, are offensive to the provisions of the Electoral Act 2006 (as amended) because it is urging Nigerians to vote for the president.
They read, “2015 VOTE JONATHAN FOR EQUITY INTEGRITY& GOOD GOVERNANCE.” With green backgrounds, the billboards have the picture of the president adorning the traditional caps and attires of the three major ethnic groups, Hausa, Yoruba and Ibo, on them.
The message on the billboards does not only suggest that the president has been picked by his party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as its standard bearer, it also indicates that he has opened campaign in violation of the Electoral Act, which specifies that campaigns should commence 90 days before any election.
Section 99 (1-3) of the Electoral Act says: “For the purpose of this Act, the period of campaigning in public by every political party shall commence 90 days before polling day and end 24 hours prior to that day. “A registered political party which through any person acting on its behalf during the 24 hours before polling day”
“Procures for publication or acquiesces in the publication of an advertisement in a Newspaper for the purpose of promoting or opposing a particular candidates, commits an offence under this Act and upon conviction is liable to a maximum fine of N500,000.” No official of JAM could be reached for comments.
However, information on the group, pieced together by this newspapers, shows that it is headed by one Basirat Nahibi, who was one of the major financiers of the previous presidential campaigns of a former head of state and a leader of the opposition All Progressive Congress, APC, Muhammadu Buhari.
Mr. Nahibi, who defected to the PDP last year, was quoted as listing the group’s objective to include support for Jonathan administration in actualizing its political programme; re-brand Mr. Jonathan as the right candidate for Nigerian in the 2015 election; and promote peace and stability by educating the populace on the need for unity, religion and tribal tolerance. Repeated attempts to get the Special Adviser to the President of Political Matters, Rufa’i Alkali to comment for this story failed.
When our correspondent first contacted him on his mobile telephone on last Friday night, the presidential aide said he was in a short meeting. “Can we talk later because I’m in a small meeting,” he said. A few minutes later, Mr. Rufai, a professor, who was once a spokesperson for the PDP, called back to find out the name of the reporter who called on behalf of this newspaper and also assured him that he would call back.
Source: Premium Times