Posted by News Express | 8 January 2018 | 1,175 times
Pro-democracy group, Forum for Democracy (FORD), has faulted the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to proceed with the rerun election for Anambra central senatorial district irrespective of pending legal issues that could blight outcome of the exercise.
Speaking in a press statement made available to journalists in Abuja Monday, National Convener of the group, Dr. Musa Abdulmalik Umoru, said INEC ought to first remove every encumbrance to the smooth conduct of the rerun election before going ahead.
The statement was also signed by National Scribe of the group, Barr. Ignatius Igwe-Kalu.
He said the insistence of the commission to go ahead with the election scheduled for January 13, 2018, irrespective of the order of the Federal High Court ordering it to give Dr. Obiora Okonkwo a certificate of return, removes the toga of neutrality which it had always claimed.
According to FORD, “INEC has shown deep partisanship in its handling of the Anambra central rerun issue. It was excepted that a commission which prides itself as a responsible organisation that is impartial would first seek to either set aside the Federal High Court order if it must go ahead with the election, or simply respect it and save the Nigeria the scarce resources needed for the 2019 elections”.
Umoru said the heat being generated over the rerun is unnecessary adding that the refusal to obey the order of court was an affront on the integrity of the judiciary.
He said that even if INEC disagrees with the court order, the legal opinion of its external counsel, Asiwaju Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), which it sought without compulsion, ought to make it rethink its steps and put the commission in roper light.
“We saw a copy of the legal opinion as was published on an online news media. We have read it and believe that if INEC really has any form of respect for its external legal adviser, it ought to rethink it steps and put off the rerun election for now till the legal issues are sorted out.
“Awomolo is a legal giant whom we all respect. INEC went to him to interpret that judgment for them and they must have paid him for the service. We wonder why the commission would engage such a Senior Advocate and still won’t take his opinion with serious.
“We also read the wonderful contribution of Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), on the issue. I read it over a whatsapp group and called him. He confirmed authoring the article. Both Awomolo and Ozekhome cited authorities to support the argument on superiority of pre-electoral suit over post-electoral suits.
“However, we believe that the best thing to do at this time, and in the interest of fairness to all parties, it to put off the rerun election and seek to resolve all the issues before going ahead. I do not think that Anambra Central people who have been two years without a senator will lose anything if they are to wait for a few more weeks for all the issues to be resolved.
“This is important because if you go ahead with the election as it is without setting aside the high court order, it may have ended up in a futile exercise because any outcome of the election will be voided by the court. So, we think INEC should thread softly and let peace be,” the group said.
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