The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has raised the alarm that conflicting orders from courts of concurrent jurisdiction, in respect of lists of candidates by political parties, could threaten the smooth conduct of next year’s general election.
National Commissioner in charge of Information and Voter Education, Festus Okoye, who stated this in Enugu, yesterday, urged the courts to be cautious in issuing ex parte orders while the political parties design means of solving their internal matters amicably without frustrating the Commission’s operations.
One issue that bothers the commission, he said, concerns multiple and contradictory orders emanating from the various courts of law, especially, arising from the party primaries.
“In some of the states, over the same subject matter, by the same parties; we have orders from three different High Courts in a particular state; orders from Federal High Court in a state, orders from the Federal High Court in the Federal Capital Territory, over the same subject and the same issue.
“Sometimes, these orders are contradictory.
“Some of the orders are saying the Commission should collect list of party primary election emanating from a political party; another order is saying ‘don’t collect,’ yet another is saying, ‘maintain the status quo.’
“We believe that this is not healthy for the Commission; it’s not healthy for the Judiciary, it’s not healthy for the Nigerian people and it will not advance Nigerian democracy.
“So, our plea is that our courts should be circumspect in granting ex parte applications; should also interrogate litigants to make sure that the same issues are not brought before courts of coordinate jurisdiction and they will then issue orders that are contradictory and orders that will give the Commission problems in obeying.
“We don’t want a situation where the Commission will be said to be disobeying court orders…
“It creates confusion for the Commission and the Commission does not want that type of confusion, especially at this particular period,” Okoye stated.
Asked whether INEC would prosecute people involved in multiple registrations, Okoye replied that the Commission’s legal department lacks the manpower to handle the anticipated array of offenders but disclosed that they will partner with the Nigerian Bar Association in prosecuting electoral offenders.
He further added that the Commission is perfecting its processes, ahead of the elections.
The commission, Okoye added, will install trackers in all vehicles deployed for electoral duties, particularly those carrying sensitive electoral materials in 2019.
“So, when a vehicle leaves the Central Bank of Nigeria or an INEC office; we can see the vehicle moving to where it has been programmed to go to.
“If the vehicle moves out of the Highway where it has been programmed to go; we will demobilise it.
“If it stops on the way while carrying sensitive electoral materials; we’ll interrogate the driver and the officers accompanying the vehicle.
“When the vehicle gets to the local government where it is supposed to be; we monitor it to ensure that it’s not diverted for any particular purpose,” he disclosed.