By Moses Uwagbale
Worried by the incessant conflicting court orders, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has advised senior members of the bar not to allow personal considerations to outweigh their commitment to the profession, the rule of law and due process.
INEC urged 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 interests.
A statement issued by Mr Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, in Abuja after the commission’s meeting held on Thursday said, a lawyer, in the best interest of the bar and the bench, should not do anything that will bring them into disrepute.
He said the call became 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.
He said that the commission was worried about the spate and rapidity of conflicting court orders mostly obtained ex-parte on issues and challenges around the administration of political parties and conduct of party primaries.
This, according to him, are mostly obtained ex-parte involving substantially the same parties, on the same or similar grounds and from courts of coordinate jurisdiction on party administration and 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 leaves it in an awkward and impossible position.”
Okoye said that the meeting apart from the effect of conflicting court orders deliberated on various issues including the pending bye-elections that arose as a result of resignations and death of members of the National and State Assemblies.
He said that ahead of Edo and Ondo governorship elections, the commission would test run its new “Policy on Conducting Elections in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic” in the Nasarawa Central State Constituency of Nasarawa State bye-election holding on Aug. 8.
He noted that before the lockdown across the country as a result of the pandemic, INEC received notifications of vacancies in the National and several State Assembly constituencies.
“However, the commission could not conduct bye-elections to fill these vacancies due to the exigencies posed by the pandemic.
In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to test run the new policy, as well as Regulations and Guidelines, using the Nasarawa Central State Constituency of Nasarawa State election to fill the vacancy created by the death of Hon. Adamu Suleiman Ibrahim.
Okoye said that the timetable and schedule of activities for the bye-election had been uploaded on the Commission’s website, adding that the official notification for the election will be given on June 29.
“Political Parties shall conduct their primaries between June 30 and July 6, while the last day for submission of list of nominated candidates is 6 p.m on July 7.
“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.”