Romanus Ugwu and Charity Nwakaudu, Abuja
The Independent National Election Commission (INEC) has issued certificate of returns to the House of Representatives-elect for Okigwe South Federal Constituency in Imo State, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, denying the claim by some politicians that it has been disobeying court orders and judgements.
Speaking while issuing the certificate, National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, described the claim by some politicians as untrue and a mere attack on the reputation and credibility of the Commission.
He appealed to political parties and senior lawyers involved in election petition process to engage subordinates versed in the process to avoid misinterpretation.
“This present commission is committed to obey all court orders and judgements. As far as this commission is concerned, it is not our duty to adjudicate on matters, the moment court adjudicates on matters and we have satisfied copies of the judgement of court, we are duty bound to obey and enforce such laws from court judgement, whether it is favourable to the Commission or not
“We are now in election petition process, the Commission is joined as a respondent, we want to apply to senior lawyers, we are representing both the petitioner and respondent, especially when their dealings concern the electoral Commission.
“The headquarters does not warehouse ballot papers and other electoral materials, the electoral materials are warehoused either in the various local government or the state offices of the Commission.
“What happens is that when parties who are in petition process apply to the court for inspection and photocopies of materials, those court orders are served on us and it is the duty of the Commission to direct the appropriate local government or state to release those statements to the lawyers who engage in election petition process.
“But sometimes senior lawyers send junior lawyers who know nothing about election petition law to the Commission, they drop letters in the national headquarters and demand for documents that ordinarily are not supposed to be here and if you don’t give them those documents they just walk across the gate and address a press conference that the Commission has refused to obey court orders.