*Appreciates CJN, NBA intervention
*IPAC blames litigations on intra – party crisis
Tunde Opalana, Abuja
Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, on Monday, told Chairmen and Representatives of political parties contesting the November 6 Anambra State Governorship election that their frivolous litigations are stalling smooth operation of the commission.
Yakubu at the third quarterly meeting with political parties in Abuja said conflicting orders emanating from courts of coordinate jurisdiction, some of which are still in court and therefore sub judice, are making INEC work difficult.
He was particularly worried that some pre-election litigations relating to the nomination of candidates for elections were not determined until after elections.
Addressing the parties Chairmen, Yakubu said: “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”.
Charging leadership of the parties, he said: “By the same token, as Chairmen and leaders of political parties, you have 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”.
Reacting, National Chairman, Inter-Party Advisory Council, IPAC, Dr. Leonard Nzenwa, who is also the National Chairman, African Action Congress (AAC), blamed the ugly incidents of frivolous litigations on internal crisis within political parties.
He said IPAC is deeply concerned with every other stakeholders’ misgivings about the troubling issue of internal party democracy and how instead of abating have driven neck deep into it to the point where the judiciary have not only become stand-in cheerleaders to all the anti-democratic shenanigans buffeting the political parties in Nigeria.
He blamed lawyers for inexorably driving the death nail to coffins of progress of political parties in the country.
He said: “Conflicting judgments from court of competent jurisdiction in the country on political matters have 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 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, at it relates to Anambra polls alone are over 30 cases at different courts for adjudication.
“It’s our greatest desire, even as we apply our greatest might to steer clear of litigation as its proven over time that it has neither helped the growth of our nascent democracy or positioned our political parties to be effective drivers of democracy and the culture it needs to grow it”
Ahead of Anambra gubernatorial polls coming on November 6, 2021, the Council called on INEC to put its best to conduct the polls in such a manner that no one will be left in doubt that the Commission will enthrone transparent and credible elections in the country.
He said: “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.
“We are comforted that the Commission equivocally restated its stand on electronic transfer of elections result during the period as it made it abundantly clear that it had the capacity to do it even with protestation of law-makers”.