Sunday September 19, 2021 10:01 PM

Court Rulings: INEC expresses fear over 2023 election

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has urged the leadership of the Judiciary and the Nigeria Bar Association to end multiple orders and judgments by courts on election matters.

Making reference to the November 6 Anambra State governorship poll, the commission says the legion of orders and judgments could erode its powers, compromise its independence and affect the timelines of the 2023 general elections.

INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, raised the alarm on Tuesday at the implementation meeting of the Voter Education and Publicity Department in Awka, Anambra State.

He said: “The leadership of the bar association and the leadership of the judiciary must wade into this descent to forum shopping and the multiplicity of orders and judgments from courts of coordinate jurisdiction.

“This is urgent, it is imperative and cannot be carried over to the 2023 general elections..”.

Okoye said that it was becoming increasingly hard for court orders and judgments to be obeyed because of the antics of aspirants and candidates..

His words: “The commission has variously and consistently complained at the frequency and consistency with which courts of coordinate jurisdiction from different jurisdictions all over Nigeria assumed jurisdiction and delivered judgments and issued orders with far-reaching implications on the conduct of the Anambra State governorship election.

“Some of the orders have the tendency of eroding the powers of the commission and compromising its independence, powers, and timelines for the conduct of the upcoming election.

“In our regulations and guidelines for the conduct of elections as well as the timetable and schedule of activities, the commission issues access code to the national chairman of every political party with which they upload the personal particulars and list of their candidates electronically.

“This obviated the demonstrations, fights, and violence normally witnessed in the premises of the commission by different factions of political parties and the national and state branches of political parties.

“Unfortunately, some of the judgments and orders were given especially on the primary elections in Anambra State have bypassed our portal and sought to restore the manual submission of the list and personal particulars of candidates.

“It is also becoming increasingly difficult for the commission to obey court orders and judgments that are the latest in time or the first in time as some of the political parties and the candidates have perfected the art of shopping for the first in time or the latest in time. The planning and preparation for election requires certainty and adherence to timelines.

Okoye stressed the need for political parties to “obey and conform to their constitutions and guidelines for the conduct of party primaries as well as the provisions of Section 87 of the Electoral Act.”

He also advised them to “extricate themselves from the web and crisis of endless litigation arising from the conduct of primaries, own their rules, and also comply with the provision of the Electoral Act 2010 [as amended] in all their activities.”

Okoye said that INEC will commence the conduct of elections in the newly created Polling Units (PUs) with the November 6 governorship election in Anambra.State.

He added that “political campaigns or slogans shall not be tainted with abusive language directly or indirectly, that may likely injure religious, ethnic, tribal or sectional feelings.’’

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