From Idu Jude Abuja
With the 2023 general elections fast approaching, the leadership of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) has accused the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) of failing in its constitutional duty of being unbiased, with considerable evidence against it before a competent court of jurisdiction.
This allegation was made Monday in Abuja by the National Legal Advisers to the party, Mr Robert Hong, while addressing media men on the fragrant disobedient of court Judgement by INEC, who have refused to publish names of its senatorial candidates despite the final submission by the Appeal Court on the January 10.
Mr Hong further states that INEC after losing cases from the first and second courts on the same matter has again approached to brief three Senior Advocates as well as other numerous councils in readiness for a Supreme Court battle over the same matter.
Mr Hong said “the party, is asking INEC as an unbiased electoral umpire, to step down from the high horse and toe the way of honour and respect the appeal court judgement, which has mandated INEC to publish names of its senatorial candidates from Kano central, Potiskum in Yobe state and Taraba South. These candidates were those the party submitted to INEC to replace former party members who on their own volution resigned their membership of the party to join other parties. And in respect to relevant sections 1 and 31 of the constitution which stipulates that the INEC having been put on notice of the prevailing situation, election into such positions must be conducted within 90 days and submitted to INEC before the general election.”
The legal adviser, however, frowned at the INEC stands that the electoral guideline supersedes the electoral provision in the Nigerian constitution section 33 of the 1999 constitution as amended.
“We are asking INEC to lawfully obey the court judgement but it keeps insisting on the superiority of its electoral guideline, which, of course, is not superior to the constitutional provisions of the Federal Government of Nigeria,” he said.
“And it is on this legal premise that INEC lost at the High court and appeal court respectively and now heading to Supreme Court with the engagement of senior councils pursuant to the case already lost at the appeal court.
“Our question is what interest has INEC in a case that it has lost its legal battle at two different courts now heading to Supreme Court. As an unbiased umpire, INEC should not decide who contests under our party in the forthcoming election, neither does it has the right to impose a Candidate after the party has fulfilled the relevant provisions of the law with regards to filling the space left by former party members. But INEC insisted that the submission of names of candidates has elapsed before we submitted names, which is far from the constitutional provisions.”
Meanwhile, the legal adviser of the party has expressed fears that the INEC may have started playing a dangerous game in defiance of the pronouncement of the court.
“What we seek is the interest of the umpire in trying to impose candidates which are not within their jurisdictions. We don’t want to preempt the umpire but we are also sounding it loud and clear that the appeal court judgement of 10th of January 2023, mandated the relevant candidates in the party submitted their names to fill the gaps to resume political campaign preparatory to the general election at their various senatorial zones.”
He said that such pronouncement remains valid until set aside by another competent court of jurisdiction.
“And like I said earlier, the party expresses fear because INEC is stepping into the arena of political contest instead of being an umpire which is dangerous to the conduct of the general election,” he said.