Edo, Ondo guber polls: INEC expresses concern over conflicting court orders

• Asks NBA to prioritise country’s interest above individual wants

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Thursday, expressed dismay about the spate and rapidity of conflicting court orders and ex-parte rulings involving same parties on the same or similar grounds from courts of coordinate jurisdiction over issues and challenges around the administration of political parties and conduct of party primaries.

INEC made this known in a release signed by its National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye Esq., after it met to deliberate on issues including pending bye-elections that arose as a result of resignations and death of members of the National and State Assemblies in some states and the effect of conflicting court orders following the conduct of primary elections.

The commission expressed its dismay that while it has to obey all court orders, some of the orders were obtained from jurisdictions outside the location where issues came up.

“Some of the orders were obtained from courts completely removed from the geographical area where the course of action arose. The commission is committed to obeying all court orders, but the speed, frequency and conflicting nature of the orders leave it in an awkward and impossible position,” INEC said.

The electoral body further called on the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to impress on senior members of the bar to put the country’s interest and the judiciary above every other interest and not allow personal considerations to outweigh their commitment to the profession, the rule of law and due process, adding that, it is in the best interest of the bar and the bench not to do anything that would bring them into disrepute.”

According to INEC, the call became necessary because it had to draw the attention of all stakeholders to the uncertainties and threats posed by conflicting orders on not only preparations for elections, but also to the growth and development of the nation’s democracy.

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The body also laid down guidelines on the commission’s policy on conducting elections in view of the COVID-19 pandemic and forthcoming elections in Edo and Ondo state, adding that before the lockdown across the country as a result of the pandemic, it received notifications of vacancies in the National and several State Assembly constituencies but could not conduct bye-elections to fill these vacancies due to the exigencies posed by the pandemic.

“In view of its policy on conducting elections in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to test run the new policy as well as regulations and guidelines developed therefrom, the commission resolved to test run its policy in the Nasarawa Central State Constituency of Nasarawa State to fill the vacancy created by the death of Hon Adamu Suleiman Ibrahim, member representing the constituency.

“The by-election will take place on August 8, 2020. The timetable and schedule of activities have been uploaded on the commission’s website. The official notification for the election will be given on June 29, 2020.

“Political Parties shall conduct their primaries between June 30 and July 6, 2020, while the last day for submission of list of nominated candidates is 6 pm on July 7, 2020. The scheduling of this election will enable the Commission and all the critical stakeholders to learn the necessary lessons and make adjustments before the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States,” INEC said.

Speaking on the engagement of security personnel on electoral duty, INEC explained that it had in a statement issued on June 23, 2020, intimated the public that the Code of Conduct and Rules of Engagement for Security Personnel on Electoral Duty will be uploaded on the websites of the commission and the Office of the National Security Adviser and the Nigeria Police Force on Thursday, June 25, 2020, adding that in keeping with its promise, the said Code of Conduct has been uploaded on the commission’s website.

NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

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