Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, yesterday, took a swipe at the judiciary over the various conflicting decisions that emanated from the Courts of Appeal in respect of the 2015 general elections.
Apparently disturbed by the various judgments that proceeded from the appellate courts which cancelled some of the polls and ordered for a re-run, Yakubu advocated for certainty in the laws governing the resolution of electoral conflicts.
The INEC boss stated this in Abuja at the opening ceremony of the National Conference on Election Petition Tribunals and Appeals organised by the Court of Appeal.
Yakubu submitted that: “There is need for certainty in the rules governing the resolution of electoral disputes. Judicial precedence is of immense importance, without which neither the judiciary nor INEC will be spared of immunity by political actors”.
He observed that the Court of Appeal, in one judicial division, ordered INEC to conduct a fresh election, “in which only the duly qualified candidates participated” and in another division, the appellate court, under a similar circumstance, nullified the election, disqualified the candidate and allowed the political party to submit the name of another nominee for the re-run election.
“Yet in another division, it nullified the election and ordered INEC to conduct a fresh one, but was silent about the status of the disqualified candidates, thereby giving room for endless commentary and new rounds of litigation on the eligibility of the disqualified candidate to participate in the re-run,” he said.
The electoral umpire, however, pledged its commitment to respect any decision of the courts.
The INEC chairman said at the end of last year’s general election, the commission was joined in 680 cases filed by various political parties challenging its declarations at the Election Petition Tribunals throughout the country.
“At the end of their sittings, about 580 cases were dismissed by the Tribunals and/or Courts of Appeal.”
He also decried the cost of conducting re-run elections, adding that it was more challenging to manage re-run arising from candidates’ disqualification.
Yakubu said there are instances where elections were nullified and INEC was ordered to conduct a re-run simply for the sake of conducting elections in a specific polling unit and added that after wasting time and resources, the outcome of such election do not make any difference to the original result declared by INEC.
In her speech, President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, said the court received 749 appeals emanating from the decisions of the various election petition tribunals.
Bulkachuwa said despite the challenges of time, justices of the court had managed to dispose the appeals within the stipulated period as required by law.

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