Former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega, in Thursday urged the agency to go to court over the revised order of elections recently passed by the National Assembly.
The new timetable was part of the amendment of the Electoral Act but Jega said it should be challenged in court.
Speaking in Abuja at an event organized by the Youth initiative for Advocacy Growth and Development, the former INEC boss said it would help to establish the independence of the electoral body.
In his paper titled: “Is Nigeria’s Democracy Under Threat?” Jega stated: “Both INEC and the interested parties have been reluctant to go to court for interpretation ofc onstitutional provisions and this is significant because this has to do with the independence of electoral bodies.”
Jega said the National Assembly was trampling on the independence if INEC, which he declared had constitutional discretion to fix election timetables.
“Frankly, a lot of the arguments on this cannot be wished away and I think it is necessary for the independence of the electoral commission because that is key to the integrity of the electoral process because if we allow people to jettison and undermine that independence for whatever reason, then we are in serious problem. I think there is serious justification to test this matter in court.
“I am struggling to see where the National Assembly found the constitutional justification for what they have done. I will mention two specific provisions. First of all, in the schedule of the constitution part 15 Section 1, of the said schedule, INEC has the constitutional power to organise, undertake and supervise elections.”
Jega also referred to Sections 76 (1), Section 111 (1) and 178 (1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, Jega said: “it is categorically stated that elections shall be held on a date to be appointed by INEC. So, if elections are to be held on a date set by INEC, where does the National Assembly get the power?
“As far as I am concerned, the dates and the sequence for elections are together.”