You Are Partisan, Acting Irresponsibly, Appeal Court Tells INEC, As It Sacks Bauchi Speaker

You Are Partisan, Acting Irresponsibly, Appeal Court Tells INEC, As It Sacks Bauchi Speaker

November 25, 2023 NewsOrient
By Samuel Egburonu, Editor

The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, has warned the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to stop acting irresponsibly.

It also expressed dismay that INEC, which is supposed to be a neutral umpire in Nigerian elections is being “partisan” and is “dancing naked in the market.”

The appellate court, in an unanimous decision, handed down this warning on Friday while ruling on an appeal on Bauchi State House of Assembly Election involving the Speaker of the Bauchi State House of Assembly, Abubakar Suleiman of the People’s Democratic Party, who INEC earlier declared the winner of Ningi Central Constituency in Bauchi State.

The lead judgement of a three-member panel of the court, delivered by Justice K. I. Amadi, frowned at the attitude and actions of INEC.

The Court also sacks the Bauchi Speaker, and orders election rerun in 10 polling units.

The appellate court said: “The INEC as an institution should be reminded of its role in an election; to be an unbiased umpire between parties.

“It should stop behaving irresponsibly, having in mind that its duty to conduct election has a direct bearing on peace and well-being of the country.

“The role of INEC in election dispute should be limited to the tendering of all the documents used in an election and explaining what they were used for and how they were obtained.

“INEC should stop dancing naked in the market, pretending that no one is seeing its nakedness and its dancing steps.”

Frowning at INEC’s denial of its certified documents properly tendered in evidence, the court held that “going by Section 137 of the Electoral Act 2022, the certified INEC documents were enough to sustain the allegation that the election was not conducted in compliance with the provisions of the law.”

The Court could not reconcile why INEC would deny in court that the results of the election were cancelled in some polling units when its officials (INEC’s official) evidently established the same fact in Forms EC 40G which they signed and submitted to it.

NewsOrient reports that Bauchi State House of Assembly petition involving the Speaker is not the only contended highbrow elections in 2023 where INEC’s alleged display of bias has come before Nigerian courts of record.

With the Appeal Court’s plain warning of the electoral umpire, some observers said time time has come to critically examine the role of INEC in the conduct of and results of Nigeria’s elections in 2023.

“Unless we critically examine or re-examine the role of INEC during and after this year’s elections, we cannot truly assuage the pains of millions of Nigerians who today feel betrayed and abused,” said Ms Karen Udom, a human rights advocate.