The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, announced on Monday that it is now dealing with more than 600 litigations in various courts throughout the federation in advance of the 2023 general election.
Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the chairman of the commission, revealed this information at a workshop for more than 300 judges who will handle disputes related to the upcoming elections. Prof. Yakubu regretted that the majority of cases still pending against the electoral body involve the way political parties have conducted their primaries.
He said that the Commission’s involvement in pre-election issues was unhealthy for the country at a time when it should be focused on thorough planning for the logistics required to hold the upcoming elections.
“Infact, just recently, one political party served over 70 court processes on the Commission, seeking to compel it to accept list of candidates, long after the time for nomination of candidates had elapsed”, Prof. Yakubu added.
The head of INEC reaffirmed the Commission’s commitment to upholding court orders while stating that the judiciary must stick strictly to precedents.
“Strict adherence to the principle of stare-decisis (precedent) is critical for us as election management body
“A situation where a trial court tries to vary the decision of the Supreme Court, puts the Commission in a very difficult situation.
“The job of politicians is to be purely partisan, but our job as INEC and the Judiciary requires absolute neutrality, may God help us”, he added.
Meanwhile, Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, cautioned the 307 judicial officers who will hear 2023 election petition cases not to engage in any conduct that might damage the reputation of the judiciary as a whole.
“As the Chief Justice of Nigeria, I will not condone any act of recklessness or abuse of power from any of you”, Justice Ariwoola warned.
He also introduced a Judicial Electoral Manual (JEM), which would direct the tribunal members in the resolution of any disputes resulting from the general elections in 2023.