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By NBF News
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INEC Chairman Attahiru Jega, INEC National Commissioner in charge of Benue , Ebonyi and Abia states, Mr. Philip Umeadi,

The Independent National Electoral Commission is to strengthen its political party monitoring unit ahead of the 2011 general elections.

Our correspondent gathered in Abuja on Sunday that the INEC leadership at a recent meeting agreed to enforce all rules governing internal democracy within the political parties.

The Commission's determination in enforcing the rules was said to be further informed by claims that some political parties are reserving 'automatic tickets' for some contestants.

Issues of emergence, removal and replacement of party candidates formed the bulk of pre- and post-election litigations in the 2007 elections.

Insider sources at INEC told THE PUNCH that the commission, in enforcing the rules, would be relying on provisions of Section 85 (2) of the Electoral Act 2010 which states:

'The Commission may with or without prior notice to the political party monitor and attend any convention, congress, conference or meeting which is convened by a political party for the purpose of:

'(a) electing members of its executive committees or other governing bodies; (b) nominating candidates for an election at any level.'

The Commission is also strengthening its code of conduct, especially for staff on election duty.

Although details were sketchy as at the time of filing this report, our correspondent gathered that the affected members of staff would be made to commit to abiding by the code in writing.

In addition, they might be required to receive the written consent of the INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, before going to monitor party congresses.

This, an informed source said, was to avoid a situation where factions of the same political party might 'hire' officials to give legitimacy to their congresses.

Chief Press Secretary to the INEC chairman, Mr. Kayode Idowu, in an interview with our correspondent, in Abuja, confirmed INEC's renewed interest in how political parties conduct their affairs.

He said the Commission was intent on ensuring that each political party abided by its own rules as well as relevant laws of the land.

According to him, 'Section 85, 86 of the Electoral Act gives INEC powers to monitor political parties.

'Like the chairman has always said, the Commission would hold the parties to the provisions of their own laws and their own constitutions and the relevant laws of the land.

'Section 87 of the Electoral Act for instance, stipulates the procedure for how candidates can emerge right from the Presidency down to the councilor in the ward, those are provisions of the law and INEC is intent on the observance of those provisions.'