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INEC bans political campaigns at churches, mosques

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has banned political campaigns or rallies at all places of worship like churches, and mosques ahead of the 2023 general elections now barely 3 months away.

The electoral umpire disclosed this in its newly released guidelines for the conduct of political activities during this electioneering period.

The 6-page document by INEC titled, ‘Conduct of Political Rallies, Processions, and Campaigns’, also disclosed the ban of political campaigns in police stations and public offices.

INEC also prohibited the use of abusive language and hate speech as well as the use of state apparatus like media to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate during the election period.

The commission said persons attending a political rally, procession, or campaign, should not have any offensive weapon.

It maintained that the only people authorized to carry arms at such events, according to INEC, are police officers or members of security agencies who are specifically posted to be present at the respective political rallies or processions. INEC said:

“No person attending a political rally or procession shall be in possession of any offensive weapon, except a police officer or a member of a security agency authorized to carry arms and is specifically posted to be present at that political rally or processions.

“No political campaign shall be held in places designated as religious centres, police stations, and public offices. Political campaigns shall not involve the use of abusive language or any form of hate speech.

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“State apparatus including the media shall not be employed to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate at any election.”

INEC noted that the objective of political rallies was to project, offer, sensitize and create awareness about the party’s symbol, flag, slogan, and manifesto.

The commission mandated political parties to submit a notification of the schedule of their campaigns stating the date, time, venue, agenda, and list of members of the organizing committee and police approval within the jurisdiction of the campaigns, within a minimum period no later than 10 days to the commencement of their campaigns.

It added that political parties and candidates should conduct campaigns based on the constitution and manifestoes, complying with the provisions of Regulations and Guidelines for Political Parties 2022 issued by the commission, political parties’ codes of conduct, regulations, and guidelines that may be issued by the National Broadcasting Commission, as well as Covid-19 safety protocols and other public health regulations and measures.

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