Legal luminary and former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), has blamed politicians for the rising cases of inconclusive polls, absolving the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Agbakoba, who said this during a media chat, condemned the ‘do-or-die’ attitude of politicians, adding that this attitude was largely responsible for cancelled or suspended elections.
He said, “What can they do? I say what can INEC do? You tell me. In some cases, when it’s obvious that somebody who shouldn’t be an aspirant jumps out, he files cases, he compresses every single point.
“There is rigging. There is fighting and thugery. The election is not transparent. When INEC cancels it on those grounds, the party that it does not favour will say INEC is bias, like the situation now in Rivers State where there are quite some challenges. Tell me, what do you expect INEC to do?
“But if the election is free, fair credible and transparent, INEC will not declare it inconclusive. But our politicians are prepared to stretch the process, anyway they can. INEC, in my view, should even wield a bigger and stronger stick. So I am making the point that INEC is not where to look when we are talking about ending the issue of inconclusive election.”
The legal icon advised the electoral umpire to exert more authority and sanction political parties and their members who violate the laws.
“They should follow what the rule says strictly, and take strong and tough decisions, regardless of what people say,” he said.
“You will find out when a referee is refereeing a match and he’s tough, it puts players in their position. So one way INEC can do more is to be a tougher referee, to exercise to the fullest effect the powers given to it by the law.
“It should therefore prosecute more. Like those who have subverted elections by rigging or committing other electoral offences.”