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INEC urges NBA to prevail on senior lawyers to put Nigeria, judiciary above other interests

.. Worried over conflicting court orders on elections

The Independent National Electoral Commission has urged the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to impress on senior members of the Bar to put the country’s interest and the judiciary above every other interest and not allow personal considerations to outweigh their commitment to the profession, the rule of law and due process.

INEC in a statement by the National Commisssioer and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye said it is in the best interest of the Bar and the Bench not to do anything that would bring them into disrepute.

According to Okoye, these calls have become necessary to draw attention to the uncertainties and threats posed by conflicting orders on not only preparations for elections but also to the growth and development of Nigeria’s democracy.

He said the Commission is worried about the spate and rapidity of conflicting Court Orders mostly obtained ex-parte involving substantially the same parties, on the same or similar grounds and from courts of coordinate jurisdiction on issues and challenges around the administration of political parties and conduct of party primaries.

“Some of the Orders were obtained from Courts completely removed from the geographical area where the course of action arose.

“The Commission is committed to obeying all court orders, but the speed, frequency and conflicting nature of the Orders leave it in an awkward and impossible position”, Okoye said.

The INEC Chief Spokesman said in view of the pending Edo and Ondo Governorship elections and the Commission’s Policy on Conducting Elections in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic, it noted that before the lockdown across the country as a result of the pandemic, INEC received notifications of vacancies in the National and several State Assembly Constituencies.

He stated that INEC, however could not conduct bye-elections to fill these vacancies due to the exigences posed by the pandemic.

Okoye said: “in view of its Policy on Conducting Elections in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic and the need to test run the new Policy as well as Regulations and Guidelines developed therefrom, the Commission resolved as follows:

“To test run its Policy in the Nasarawa Central State Constituency of Nasarawa State to fill the vacancy created by the death of Hon. Adamu Suleiman Ibrahim, member representing the Constituency.

“The bye-election will take place on 8th August 2020. The Timetable and Schedule of Activities has been uploaded on the Commission’s website.

“The official notification for the election will be given on 29th June 2020. Political Parties shall conduct their primaries between 30th June and 6th July 2020 while the last day for submission of list of nominated candidates is 6pm on 7th July 2020.

“The scheduling of this election will enable the Commission and all the critical stakeholders to learn the necessary lessons and make adjustments before the Governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States.

He disclosed that the Commission has
uploaded the Code of Conduct on Engagement for Security Personnel on Electoral Duty on its website as earlier promised.

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