CSOs say role of courts in electoral disputes worrisome

By Angela Atabo

#TrackNigeria: The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room has expressed concern over the involvement of the courts in electoral litigation and disputations in a manner capable of weakening the credibility of the electoral system.

Mr Clement Nwankwo ,the Convener of the coalition of more than 70 civil society organisations,  expressed the feeling at a news conference on the group’s  preliminary report in respect of supplementary elections scheduled for Saturday.

The supplementary elections are to hold in four states – Bauchi, Benue, Kano and Sokoto – as well as some Area Councils in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

“Situation Room will like to express concern about the emerging trend of escalating judicial involvement in what should ordinarily be matters outside the purview of the courts across the country .

“The courts issue perplexing orders and injunctions that constrain INEC’s ability to fulfil its constitutional functions of conducting elections.

“Situation Room is worried about the trend and its potential of impugning and damaging respect for the courts and justice system in Nigeria as well as derogating on the credibility of elections.’’

Nwankwo called on courts in the country and the National Judicial Council (NJC) to act to stop the trend.

He said that the group would be observing the elections to be conducted in the four states and the FCT.

He  called on INEC to ensure that the elections were conducted in a free and fair manner and to ensure that its processes were respected and implemented.

“Situation Room expects that logistics for the elections are in place and the collation of results conducted in a transparent manner,’’ he said

Nwankwo urged security agencies invited by INEC to assist with the conduct of the supplementary elections to conduct themselves in a non-partisan and professional manner.

He reiterated that Section 29(3) of  the Electoral Act defines their role in elections and that it would be illegal for them to operate outside the roles defined for them by INEC.

He said that owing to the close contest and high stakes in the supplementary elections, there was potential for serious local instability that might further and dramatically affect the already damaged credibility of Nigeria a whole is real.

He called on political parties and candidates to take part in the elections devoid of violence, vote buying or other electoral malpractices.

Nwankwo called on Nigerians in the affected areas where the supplementary elections would hold to come out and freely exercise their votes. (NAN)

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