The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has reassured the Nigerian judiciary of its determination to continue to abide by court orders.
Chairman of the Commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu gave the reassurance at the capacity building workshop for justices and judges on election matters, in Abuja.
The INEC Chairman drew the attention of the jurists, heads of courts and lawyers to strict adherence to stare decisis, which he noted that the doctrine that courts will adhere to precedent in making their decisions is critical to the Election Management Body.
Speaking on the spate of adjudication of post-election disputes, Professor Yakub said that in studying the judgements of the Tribunals arising from both the 2019 General Election, the off-cycle Governorship elections and the bye-elections conducted so far, the Commission has identified areas where it needs work in reducing litigations.
“As a result, we are witnessing increasingly less Court cases challenging the conduct of elections by the Commission.
“However, cases arising from the conduct of primaries for the nomination of candidates by political parties is on the increase. So far, we have been joined in about 600 cases relating to the conduct of recent primaries and nomination of candidates by political parties for the 2023 General Election.
“Only two weeks ago, one political party served about 70 Court processes on the Commission in one day seeking to compel us to accept the nomination or substitution of its candidates long after the deadline provided in the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 General Election had elapsed.
” Some of the cases will go up to the Supreme Court. The implication is that we are still dealing with issues of nomination of candidates thereby eating into vital rime for preparation of and procurement of sensitive materials for the materials. It also means that the Courts will be dealing with the same issues long after the General Election”. The INEC Boss said.
He decried a situation where a trial Court sought to vary the judgement of the Supreme Court by ordering the Commission to issue a Certificate of Return in favour of a candidate whose emergence during the party’s primary election has been nullified by the apex Court (and affirmed by the same Court following an application for clarification).
The Electoral Umpire explained that such issues put the Commission or the electoral process in a challenging state and wastes the time of Courts which are already saddled with more difficult cases by what he describes as litigation-happy individuals and parties.
Professor Yakubu however urged the judiciary to shun partisanship and uphold absolute neutrality in the forthcoming General Election, while assuring the Commission see will not disappoint Nigerians.
The workshop is expected to enhance the understanding of INEC’s processes, especially the innovations introduced pursuant to the enactment of the Electoral Act 2022 which came into force on 25th February 2022.