Politics

2023 Elections: INEC Acted Irresponsibly – Appeal Court Slams Electoral Body

The Court of Appeal, sitting in Abuja, on Friday, slammed the Independent National Electoral Commissioner, INEC, for being partisan.

According to the appellate court, it was embarrassing that the Commission could appear before it to act in favour of a party in an election dispute by disowning documents that it not only issued but also duly certified.

It decried that the electoral body has continued to “dance naked in the market,” even though it was meant to assume a neutral stand in election litigations.

“The INEC as an institution should be reminded of its role in an election; to be an unbiased umpire between parties.

“It should stop behaving irresponsibly, having in mind that its duty to conduct election has a direct bearing on peace and well-being of the country.

“The role of INEC in election dispute should be limited to the tendering of all the documents used in an election and explaining what they were used for and how they were obtained.

“INEC should stop dancing naked in the market, pretending that no one is seeing its nakedness and its dancing steps,” the court stated while delivering judgment in a Bauchi State House of Assembly election appeal.

The court made the remark in an appeal brought before the court by the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the election, Khalid Abdulmalik-Ningi.

INEC had declared that Suleiman of the PDP polled a total of 16, 866 votes to defeat his closest rival, Abdulmalik-Ningi of the APC, who scored 15, 065 votes in the election that was held on March 18.

However, dissatisfied with the outcome of the election, the APC candidate lodged a petition before the State Assembly Election Petition Tribunal.

INEC, a respondent in the matter, denied the claim that there was over-voting, it failed to produce any witness before the tribunal, which eventually dismissed the petition.

However, the panel, in its unanimous decision, nullified the election of the Speaker of the Bauchi State House of Assembly, Abubakar Suleiman, who was earlier declared the winner of Ningi Central Constituency in the state by INEC.

The court held that evidence before it established that the election was inconclusive.