Prof Mahmood Yakubu, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has said that “conflicting” court orders on political matters are making the commission’s work difficult.
This comes as multiple court orders have been issued bordering on the leadership crisis of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as well as candidates for the Anambra governorship election scheduled for November.
Following the development, Ibrahim Muhammad, chief justice of Nigeria (CJN), summoned six chief judges over conflicting orders issued in their courts.
Speaking during the commission’s quarterly meeting with political parties on Monday, Yakubu said such litigations affect the credibility and transparency of the electoral process.
He, however, appreciated the CJN and Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) for steps taken on the recent multiple court orders.
“I am aware that some of the cases are still in court and therefore sub judice. I must say that some of the decided cases are making our work difficult and we have been crying out loud for a long time. In particular, some pre-election litigations relating to the nomination of candidates for elections were not determined until after the elections,” Yakubu said.
“Consequently, in some instances, political parties were declared winners without candidates to immediately receive the certificates of return on account of protracted and conflicting litigations or where courts, rather than votes, determine winners of elections. This situation is compounded by cases on the leadership of political parties, thereby making the exercise of our regulatory responsibilities difficult.
“It appears that in a number of electoral cases in Nigeria today, the settled law is now unsettled and the time-honoured principle of stare decisis does not seem to matter any longer. What is most disconcerting for us is that the more INEC strives to improve the credibility and transparency of our electoral process, the more extraneous obstacles are put in our way through litigations.
“However, the commission appreciates the recent statement by his lordship, the chief justice of Nigeria, as well as the strongly-worded concern by the Nigerian Bar Association. We will work with both the bar and the bench to defend the electoral process in the best interest of our democracy.”