The Minister of Communications Barrister Adebayo Shittu on Monday declared the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) lacks the powers to ban campaigns more than 24 hours prior to commencement of voting.
Shittu made this declaration while addressing journalists in Ibadan.
The Minister said the commission, based on the electoral act, does not have the power to stop campaigns more than 24 hours prior to any election.
Shittu, who said many Nigerians were disappointed with postponement of the general elections last Saturday, solicited INEC, should be given another chance to prove it is truly independent with the rescheduled polls.
He pointed out Section 99 of the Electoral Act stipulates campaigns for elections only end 24 hours to polls, stating INEC does not have the power to extend the ban beyond the stipulated time.
According to him: “Again and again, they must justify that ban, because under the law, campaigns must stop 24 hours to the elections.
“Today and tomorrow, 24 hours, let just assume is 48 hours. To sustain that ban within the period the election would be held, that would be justified, but certainly not the elections that have been extended.
“Then, certainly, there is no justification for them to say that people should not campaign.
“People must go ahead to campaign. They must go ahead to campaign. And for political parties, they must make the best of the time.
“So, if there is a rescheduled election, spanning another one week, you must expect that voter education by political parties should continue.
“Many people may forget what they have been taught on how to vote, how to identity a political party.
“So, I will say that any ban extended beyond 24 hours or at most 48 hours will not be justified.”
He added: “I think we ought to give them a benefit of doubt. If they had gone ahead and they conducted the election where some materials were taken to a far destination other than where they were meant for, I still believe, that Nigerians will still blame them.
“So, I want to appeal to Nigerians to give INEC a second chance. I am happy that Mr. President himself has expressed a lot of shock and embarrassment and disappointment and inefficiency of INEC”.