The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has again expressed displeasure over litigations, particularly the conflicting orders emanating from courts of coordinate jurisdiction.
INEC National Chairman, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, expressed the displeasure at the commission’s quarterly meeting with leaders of political parties held on Monday, in Abuja.
Yakubu said that the conflicting orders were making the work of the commission difficult.
“I am aware that some of the cases are still in court and therefore subjudice.
“I must say that some of the decided cases are making our work difficult and we have been crying out loud for a long time.
“In particular, some pre-election litigations relating to the nomination of candidates for elections were not determined until after the elections.
“Consequently, in some instances, political parties were declared winners without candidates to immediately receive the Certificates of Return on account of protracted and conflicting litigations or where Courts rather than votes determine winners of elections.
“This situation is compounded by cases on the leadership of political parties, thereby making the exercise of our regulatory responsibilities difficult.
“It appears that in a number of electoral cases in Nigeria today, the settled law is now unsettled and the time-honoured principle of stare decisis does not seem to matter any longer.
“What is most disconcerting for us is that the more INEC strives to improve the credibility and transparency of our electoral process, the more extraneous obstacles are put in our way through litigations.
“However, the commission appreciates the recent statement by His Lordship the Chief Justice of Nigeria as well as the strongly-worded concern by the Nigerian Bar Association.
“We will work with both the Bar and the Bench to defend the electoral process in the best interest of our democracy.”
Yakubu said that by the same token, the chairmen and leaders of political parties had a role to play.
“ I wish to remind you that INEC is both an umpire and a regulator.
“The commission is an umpire in dealing even-handedly with political parties collectively, but when it comes to the management of intra-party affairs, it is a regulator. We will play our role decisively,” Yakubu said.
In his remarks, chairman Inter-party Advisory Council (IPAC), Dr Leonard Nzenwa, also expressed worry on the conflicting court Judgments.
Nzenwa said that court of competent jurisdiction in the country on political matters had become embarrassing and theatrical.
“The pillar to post legal assault on one another and forum shopping by litigants and lawyers is not helping our political processes neither is it conferring any level of dignity on our democratic journey.
“The intervention by the Chief Judge of the Federation, Justice Tanko Mohammed to stem this development by summoning the Chief Judges of the States where these judgments were obtained for debriefing today (Monday) is well received by the Council.
“Indeed, we have looked at ourselves in the mirror and done deep introspection that we, as political parties, can do better than we are currently doing.
“No entity or individual would make any meaningful progress when pulled on all sides by legal ‘ambushment’ as currently faced by many political parties and the Commission.
“At the last count, as it relates to Anambra polls alone, are over 30 cases at different courts for adjudication.
“It is our greatest desire, even as we apply our greatest might to steer clear of litigation as it’s proven over time that it has neither helped the growth of our nascent democracy nor positioned our political parties to be effective drivers of democracy and the culture it needs to grow it,” he said.
Nzenwa also decried the recent rejection of electronic transmission of results by the national assembly.
He urged all stakeholders to still persuade their elected representatives to listen to the voice of the people and support the electronic transfer of election results.
He said the introduction of the z-pack and other administrative innovations were largely responsible for the successful conduct of the Edo and Ondo gubernatorial polls.
“We support the commission to continue to develop and use deep-end technology to enhance our electoral process.
“The Inter- Party Advisory Council, IPAC encourages the Commission to soldier on in the face of daunting challenges and do more within its powers to ensure that Nigerians’ vote count in all elections.”
Commenting on the success recorded so far on the ongoing voters’ registration, Nzenwa said that political parties were canvassing better ways to incentivize voters to obtain their PVCs and use it for voting rather than for identification purposes.
On Anambra Gubernatorial Polls, Nzenwa called on INEC to put its best leg forward to conduct the polls in such a manner that no one would be left in doubt that the Commission had come of age and means to enthrone transparent and credible elections in the country.
“We advise that use of academics, especially professors that are not sufficiently skilled in elections management practices should be descaled and management and staffers of the Commission be deployed for elections as many of them are equipped to undertake this task.
“Also, those beating the drums of war and those threatening to rig the election should be apprehended and handed over to the law enforcement agencies.
“Already, a notable figure amongst these candidates has been boasting that he is going to rig the elections as nobody would stop him,” he said. (NAN)