The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Yakubu Mahmood, has appealed to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court to address conflicting judgements on election matters.
According to a statement by Rotimi Oyekanmi, his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Mahmood made the appeal on Tuesday at a meeting with the chief judge of the court, Justice Abdul Kafarati.
Mr. Oyekanmi said the meeting was one of the steps being taken by the commission to ensure peaceful, free and credible elections in 2019.
Before this, the commission had released the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2019 General Elections and also met with representatives of the United Nation on Monday to seek support for the election.
Mr. Mahmood said his visit to the judge was to address major issues.
Regarding electoral disputes, the INEC chairman said he wanted to hear from the High Court areas where the Commission may need to do more to help the administration of justice.
“All cases pass through the High Courts but not all cases may go on appeal to the higher courts, making the High Courts the foundation for the dispensation of justice.”
“Understandably, this also puts enormous pressure on the High Courts by the sheer number of cases handled by a limited number of judges, especially when handling cases involving post-election litigations which are time-bound and pre-election cases that are so open-ended and could last from the conduct of party primaries to the end of tenure of elected officials.”
“First, to place before you some of our concerns in the adjudication of electoral disputes as we approach the 2019 General Elections.”
“Secondly, to hear from the High Court areas where, as a Commission, we need to do more to facilitate the speedy and qualitative administration of justice, from which, from our study and analysis of previous judgments, range from the prompt issuance of certified true copies of documents, quality and consistency of our legal representation, neutrality of the Commission to the availability to the Judiciary of our manuals, guidelines and regulations made pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution and the Electoral Act.
“In spite of the 1,134 cases involving the Commission since the 2015 General Elections, there has not been a single case in which the Commission disobeyed court order.
“However, conflicting judgements, all of which emanate from the High Courts, are putting the Commission in a very difficult situation and creating uncertainty in the process.”
“The court in one judicial division may order the Commission on a particular course of action only to be contradicted by another court of coordinate jurisdiction from another division or even within the same division on the same subject matter.”
“With 68 political parties in Nigeria today and over 90 applications from associations seeking registration as political parties, 397 days to the 2019 General Elections and 1,558 Constituencies for which elections will be conducted, there is urgent need to address the issue of conflicting judgments in order to engender certainty in the nomination of candidates in particular and the electoral process in general.”
The INEC chairman also addressed the act of involving INEC in litigation arising from elections conducted by different and distinct legal entities, saying INEC has no legal responsibility for the conduct or outcome of Local Government Elections conducted by the State Independent Electoral Commissions,SIECs.
“I want to reassure you that the Commission will continue to obey the orders of courts.
“We believe that by doing so, the credibility of our elections will be enhanced and our democracy will continue to grow.”