inecIndependent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has been dragged to a federal high court in Abuja on the legality or otherwise of the forthcoming December 5, governorship election in Bayelsa State.
The planned conduct of the election is being questioned at the court on the ground that INEC had no quorum of National Commissioners at the time it fixed the election date and also released guidelines and timetable for the gubernatorial election.
Hope Democratic Party, HDP, one of the registered political parties in the country instituted the court action in Abuja through its counsel, Mr. Tony Esiegbe.
In the lawsuit with No: FHC/ABJ/CS/904/2015, the party asked the federal high court to nullify the election guidelines and timetable released by INEC on July 10, 2015 on the ground that they offended section 153 and 159 of the 1999 constitution.
Apart from the party, other plaintiffs in the suit are Chief Bulus Wombu and Honourable King George while INEC is the sole defendant.
The grouse of the three plaintiffs was that the electoral body failed to form a quorum at the time decisions on the planned Bayelsa Governorship election were taken.
The court is being asked to determine whether by virtue of section 153 and 159 of the 1999 Constitution, the defendant operating with two out of nine National Electoral Commissioners can be said to have formed a quorum to issue a valid time table and guidelines for the conduct of governorship elections in Bayelsa State to warrant excluding the Plaintiffs to participate in the said elections scheduled to hold on December 5, or thereafter.
Plaintiffs also want the court to resolve the issue of whether INEC having not formed quorum as required by the provisions of section 153 and 159 of the 1999 Constitution has the powers to fix a date for the Bayelsa governorship election and seek to conduct same excluding the Plaintiffs from participating under an invalid guideline and timetable for the election as issued by the defendant on the 19th June, 2015.
Also being demanded from the court is whether by virtue of section 221 and 229 of the 1999 Constitution and section 31 of the Electoral Act 2010, the plaintiffs are not entitled to field and sponsor candidate in a validly scheduled Bayelsa Governorship Election without defendant disqualifying or rejecting submitted candidates for the election or whether the defendant by virtue of section 31 of Electoral Act has power to reject submitted list of nominated candidates by the plaintiff for a scheduled election.
Plaintiffs therefore sought a declaration that the defendant without forming quorum, or operating with at least five National Electoral Commissioners, cannot validly fix a date and set guidelines for the Bayelsa Governorship Election and seek to conduct same.
Plaintiffs applied for an order setting aside the defendant guideline dated June 19, 2015 and another order directing a new date to be set for the Bayelsa Governorship Election through a validly initiated and scheduled programme and guideline inclusive of the Plaintiffs through a well constituted Defendant body and organs.
In a six-paragraph affidavit in support of the suit, plaintiffs claimed that the defendant’s scheduled Governorship Election of December 5, 2015 is not a product of a validly initiated and issued the defendant not having a quorum of at least five National Electoral Commissioners at the time of the release and issue of the 19th June, 2015 guideline for the Bayelsa Governorship Election.
No date has yet been fixed for hearing.