The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has expressed concerns over the multiplicity of similar ex parte court orders ahead of the September 19 Governorship Election in Edo state, urging the Nigerian Bar Association NBA and the Judiciary to be above board in the discharge of their duties.
The national commissioner and chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee of INEC, Barr. Festus Okoye who gave the charge in a statement issued after the commission’s meeting yesterday in Abuja, said there have been a spate of ex parte orders secured by political gladiators ahead of the election in Edo state.
The statement reads in part: “The Commission is worried about the spate and rapidity of conflicting Court Orders mostly obtained ex-parte involving substantially the same parties, on the same or similar grounds and from courts of coordinate jurisdiction on issues and challenges around the administration of political parties and conduct of party primaries.
“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.
“We urge 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. It is in the best interest of the Bar and the Bench not to do anything that would bring them into disrepute.
“These calls have become necessary to draw attention to the uncertainties and threats posed by conflicting orders on not only preparations for elections and but also to the growth and development of our democracy.”
Similarly, the commission has fixed 8 August for the bye-election of Nasarawa Central State Constituency of Nasarawa state.
It said in view of the pending Edo and Ondo Governorship elections in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Commission’s policy on conducting elections, the commission said it will test run its policy in the Nasarawa bye-election.
INEC said the bye-election was to fill the vacancy created by the death of Hon. Adamu Suleiman Ibrahim, member representing the Constituency.
The commission said “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.”
The commission said the timetable and schedule of activities has been uploaded on the Commission’s website.
The statement reads in part: “The official notification for the election will be given on 29 June, 2020. Political parties shall conduct their primaries between 30th June and 6th July 2020 while the last day for submission of list of nominated candidates is 6pm on 7 July, 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.”