The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said the ban on campaigns was yet to be lifted.
He said INEC had also reached an understanding with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC0 to prosecute more staff members involved in the 2015 poll bribery scam in 21 states.
The EFCC is prosecuting 205 INEC officials from16 states.
On the recall of Sen. Dino Melaye, the INEC chairman said the agency will proceed courageously with the process.
Yakubu spoke at the quarterly Consultative Meeting with the Media in Abuja.
Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose last Thursday declared his intention to run for president in 2019, contrary to Section 99 of the Electoral Act 201 (as amended).
The section says: “For the purpose of this Act, the period of campaigning in public by every political party shall commence 90 days before polling day.”
INEC chairman said: “We want to draw the attention of political parties and candidates that are already going round the country campaigning for 2019 that INEC, the only agency responsible for the release of timetable and schedule of activities, hasn’t done so.
“And anything that anybody does is illegal under the law. We should wait for the timetable for the campaign.
“The release of timetable does not mean the commencement of campaign.”
Yakubu said the commission was battling to ensure that the 2019 elections are credible.
“Whatever we have to do, we will do. Even if it means going back to before 2015, getting rid of everybody and the commission starting afresh for the purpose of 2019,” Yakubu said, adding:
“I want to say this, that this is the first commission in the history of our elections that, in one fell swoop, INEC disciplined 205 staff based on interim report from Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) covering 16 states. Going by the condition of service, INEC is empowered to interdict them. It means that they are placed on half salary and suspended from work until their innocence or guilt is established. The report covered 16 states.
“Only last week or so I learnt the EFCC has started prosecuting the staff. So this process is ongoing.
“However, after receiving the report, we had an understanding with EFCC to the effect of the outstanding 21 states that ‘please don’t submit any interim report to the commission, just prosecute them’.
“Once they are charged to court, we will activate the provision of our terms of condition of service to interdict the affected staff. I think we are working on that understanding with EFCC.
“As soon as we receive the report on the 21 remaining states, we will expedite action, I have no doubt about that.”
On the recall of Melaye, who is representing Kogi West Senatorial District, Yakubu said INEC would go ahead with the process courageously.
“I think the matter has gone to court. We were asked that we have to personally serve and we tried to personally serve and failed. We went back to court.
“There was a pronouncement on Thursday, last week, on the matter and everything has been taken to the Court of Appeal. We are waiting to be served with court documents and the commission will take a decision today.
“Ultimately, election and recall are legal processes and we will not violate the laws of this country but I want to assure you that we will proceed courageously. Citizens must have the right to recall anybody as long as the process is in conformity with the law of this country and I am committed to that.”
On the Anambra State governorship election slated for November 18, Yakubu ruled out any possibility of an inconclusive exercise.