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INEC indicts senior lawyers over conflicting court orders

Asks NBA to call senior lawyers to order in the interest of democracy

Worried about the spate and rapidity of obtaining conflicting ex-parte orders from Nigerian courts by different political parties in Nigeria’s political sphere, the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) has called on Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to call its senior lawyers to order in the interest of the country.

In a press release signed by the commission’s National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr Festus Okoye, INEC said such orders obtained by senior lawyers poses threats to the growth and development of the country’s nascent democracy.

Okoye said: “The Commission is worried about the spate and rapidity of conflicting Court Orders mostly obtained ex-parte involving substantially the same parties, on the same or similar grounds and from courts of coordinate jurisdiction on issues and challenges around the administration of political parties and conduct of party primaries;

Some of the Orders were obtained from Courts completely removed from the geographical area where the course of action arose;

The Commission is committed to obeying all court orders, but the speed, frequency and conflicting nature of the Orders leave it in an awkward and impossible position;

We urge the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to impress on senior members of the Bar to put the country’s interest and the judiciary above every other interest and not allow personal considerations to outweigh their commitment to the profession, the rule of law and due process. It is in the best interest of the Bar and the Bench not to do anything that would bring them into disrepute;

These calls have become necessary to draw attention to the uncertainties and threats posed by conflicting orders on not only preparations for elections and but also to the growth and development of our democracy”.

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Below is the full text of the press statement:

PRESS RELEASE

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) met today the 25th June 2020 and deliberated on various issues including the pending bye-elections that arose as a result of resignations and death of members of the National and State Assemblies and the effect of conflicting court orders.

Bye-Election

In view of the pending Edo and Ondo Governorship elections and the Commission’s Policy on Conducting Elections in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Commission noted as follows:
1. Before the lockdown across the country as a result of the pandemic, it received notifications of vacancies in the National and several State Assembly Constituencies. However, the Commission could not conduct bye-elections to fill these vacancies due to the exigences posed by the pandemic.
2. In view of its Policy on Conducting Elections in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic and the need to test run the new Policy as well as Regulations and Guidelines developed therefrom, the Commission resolved as follows:
a. To test run its Policy in the Nasarawa Central State Constituency of Nasarawa State to fill the vacancy created by the death of Hon. Adamu Suleiman Ibrahim, member representing the Constituency.
b. The bye-election will take place on 8th August 2020. The Timetable and Schedule of Activities has been uploaded on the Commission’s website.
c. The official notification for the election will be given on 29th June 2020. Political Parties shall conduct their primaries between 30th June and 6th July 2020 while the last day for submission of list of nominated candidates is 6pm on 7th July 2020.
3. The scheduling of this election will enable the Commission and all the critical stakeholders to learn the necessary lessons and make adjustments before the Governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States.

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Conflicting Court Orders

The Commission is worried about the spate and rapidity of conflicting Court Orders mostly obtained ex-parte involving substantially the same parties, on the same or similar grounds and from courts of coordinate jurisdiction on issues and challenges around the administration of political parties and conduct of party primaries.

Some of the Orders were obtained from Courts completely removed from the geographical area where the course of action arose.

The Commission is committed to obeying all court orders, but the speed, frequency and conflicting nature of the Orders leave it in an awkward and impossible position.

We urge the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to impress on senior members of the Bar to put the country’s interest and the judiciary above every other interest and not allow personal considerations to outweigh their commitment to the profession, the rule of law and due process. It is in the best interest of the Bar and the Bench not to do anything that would bring them into disrepute.

These calls have become necessary to draw attention to the uncertainties and threats posed by conflicting orders on not only preparations for elections and but also to the growth and development of our democracy.
Code of Conduct and Rules of

Engagement for Security Personnel on Electoral Duty

In our press statement of the 23rd of June 2020, we intimated the public that the Code of Conduct and Rules of Engagement for Security Personnel on Electoral Duty will be uploaded on the websites of the Commission, that of the Office of the National Security Adviser and the Nigeria Police Force on Thursday 25th June 2020. In keeping with our promise, we have uploaded the said Code of Conduct on our website.

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Festus Okoye Esq.
National Commissioner and Chairman,
Information and Voter Education Committee
25th June 2020

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