ENUGU, Nigeria (VOICE OF NAIJA)- The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has expressed satisfaction with the conduct of the 2023 general elections, highlighting the outcomes of ongoing litigations at the election tribunals.
According to the commission, out of the 1,196 petitions filed following the polls, “712 were dismissed, and 179 were withdrawn.” This implies that in 891 cases, or 74.4 per cent of the total, the tribunals found no merit in the petitions and upheld the election results as conducted by INEC.
Mr. Sam Olumekun, the National Commissioner and Chairman of the Information and Voter Education Committee of INEC, made this statement in response to a report suggesting that INEC’s credibility was compromised due to challenges in 94 per cent of the 1,280 contested posts at the tribunals.
Olumekun clarified that elections were held in 1,491 constituencies across the country, comprising 1 Presidential, 28 Governorship, 109 Senatorial, 360 House of Representatives, and 993 State Assembly constituencies, rather than the previously reported 1,280 constituencies.
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He said INEC should not be blamed for pre-election cases arising from the conduct of primary elections by political parties because “these are intra-party cases involving party members in which they join the Commission and seek for reliefs binding on it. As everyone knows, INEC does not conduct primaries for political parties.”
He continued: “In pursuit of their right under the law, many litigants in Nigeria unfortunately file election petitions over the most improbable cases and later withdraw them or they are dismissed by the tribunals. If the report had taken time to analyse the outcome of the cases decided so far by the tribunals, it would have discovered that out of 1,196 petitions, 712 were dismissed and 179 withdrawn. This means that in 891 cases (74.4%), the tribunals found no merit in the petitions and affirmed the result of the elections conducted by INEC. It is surprising how the mere filing of petitions constitute a blot on the integrity of the recent elections conducted by INEC when in fact they constitute an integral part of the democratic process.”
Besides, Olumekun said petition is not only against the conduct of the election itself because “the grounds for challenging the outcome of an election as provided in Section 134 of the Electoral Act, 2022 are not limited to the conduct of election by the Commission. An election may be questioned on the ground that the winner of the election was not qualified to contest the election by virtue of his academic qualifications, age etc. Many of the petitioners did not challenge the conduct of the elections by INEC but the eligibility of candidates or their nomination by political parties. Under the law, INEC has no power to screen candidates. Similarly, only the Courts can disqualify candidates.”