The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has urged politicians to always respect and accept court decisions, as they are final and binding on everyone. The commission also frowned at comments in some quarters accusing its members of staff of partisanship or appendage of a political party.
This is coming on the heels of accusations, counter-accusations and protests that greeted the removal of Emeka Ihedioha as governor of Imo State by the Supreme Court. National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education, Festus Okoye, in a statement yesterday in Abuja, said INEC would resist invitation to be drawn into the debate on the propriety, correctness or otherwise of the decisions of the courts and tribunals.
According to him, powers and jurisdiction of the various institutions had been clearly spelt out in the Constitution and Electoral Act.
“Members of staff of the commission risked their lives, performed under delicate conditions and engaged in electoral operations aimed at protecting the integrity of the process and ensuring credible outcomes.“The commission’s code of conduct ensures that all our members of staff remain non-partisan in the discharge of their official duties. This is the only way they can maintain the delicate balance between all the contending political parties and candidates in the political process.
“It is, therefore, unhelpful and counter-productive to profile senior members of staff of the commission operating in any part of the country and paint them with the brush of partisanship just to score political points.
“Furthermore, the commission will resist the invitation to be drawn into the debate on the propriety, correctness or otherwise of the decisions of the various election petitions tribunals and the courts as the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) have clearly and comprehensively delineated the powers and areas of jurisdiction of various institutions of our democracy. Decisions of courts and tribunals are final and the rule of law dictates that all authorities and persons give effect to them,” he said.
Okoye, who stated that the commission conducted elections to fill 1,558 positions, said that 807 post-election petitions were filed, out of which 582 were dismissed, 183 withdrawn by the petitioners and 30 petitions, representing less than two percent of the total, resulted in re-run elections.
He, therefore, urged political parties and candidates to develop the democratic spirit and assist the umpire in the conduct of free and transparent elections, while he assured Nigerians that the commission would remain focused and determined to continue with improvements in the electoral process.