Independent National Electoral Commission, on Tuesday said politicians were using the courts to frustrate its efforts to ensure a credible Anambra State governorship election on November 6, 2021.
Addressing participants at the implementation meeting on voter enlightenment and publicity for the election in Awka, the national commissioner in charge of voter education, Chief Festus Okoye, said the action of the courts and the politicians could lead to voter apathy during the polls.
He said: “The commission has variously and consistently complained at the frequency and consistency with which courts of coordinate jurisdiction from different jurisdictions all over Nigeria assumed jurisdiction and delivered judgments and issued orders with far reaching implications on the conduct of the Anambra State governorship election.
“Some of the Orders have the tendency of eroding the powers of the Commission and compromising its independence, powers and timelines for the conduct of the upcoming election. “In our regulations and guidelines for the conduct of elections, as well as the timetable and schedule of activities, the Commission issues access code to the national chairmen of political parties with which they upload the personal particulars and list of their candidates electronically. “This obviated the demonstrations, fights and violence normally witnessed in the premises of the Commission by different factions of political parties and the national and state branches of political parties.
“Unfortunately, some of the judgments and Orders given redently, especially on the primary elections in Anambra State, have bypassed our portal and sought to restore the manual submission of the list and personal particulars of candidates.
“It is also becoming increasingly difficult for the Commission to obey court orders and judgments that are the latest in time or the first in time as some of the political parties and the candidates have perfected the art of shopping for the first in time or the latest in time.
“The planning and preparation for election requires certainty and adherence to timelines. The leadership of the Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, and the leadership of the judiciary must wade into this descent to forum shopping and the multiplicity of Orders and judgments from courts of coordinate jurisdiction. This is urgent; it is imperative and cannot be carried over to the 2023 general election.
“The Commission has maintained that political parties must obey and conform to their constitutions and guidelines for the conduct of party primaries, as well as the provisions of section 87 of the Electoral Act.
“Political parties must extricate themselves from the web and crisis of endless litigation arising from the conduct of primaries, own their rules and also comply with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 [as amended] in all their activities.”
He also explained that INEC is paying special attention to the Continuous Voter Registration, CVR, in Anambra State to ensure that all those who are eligible to register do so in preparation for the 6th November 2021 election.
According to him, the Commission would deploy additional staff and materials to the state in the next few weeks to accelerate the registration exercise and would also decide when to suspend the CVR in Anambra State to enable it print the permanent voters card of new registrants and integrate the supplementary voters register with the existing register of voters, while VCR would continue in the state after the election.
He said that the new polling units created by the Commission would be used for the first time during the November 6, 2021 Anambra governorship election, adding that the people of the state would therefore vote from polling units that are closer and accessible.
He added: “Political parties must conduct their campaigns with civility and the best tradition of democratic ethos. Political campaigns or slogans shall not be tainted with abusive language directly or indirectly likely to injure religious, ethnic, tribal or section feelings.
“Abusive, intemperate, slanderous, or base language or insinuations or innuendoes designed or likely to provoke violent reaction or emotions shall not be employed or used in political campaigns.
“Political parties are also reminded that places designated for religious workshop, police stations, and public offices shall not be used for political campaigns, rallies and processions.
“As of this day, (Tuesday) it is exactly 95 days to the November 6, 2021 governorship election in Anambra State and for this Commission, 95 days to the conduct of any election is a race against time and preparations must be in top gear.
“The Commission places utmost importance in planning and keeping to timelines for the conduct of elections. On the basis of this the Commission pre-delivered over 50% of the non-sensitive materials for the conduct of the election well ahead of time.
“Similarly, the Commission places high premium on the deployment of technology in the conduct of elections. This very practice which has become a part and parcel of the operations and activities of the Commission has impacted tremendously on the quality of elections in the country”.
Okoye said that the deployment of technology in the delivery of over 26 by-elections since the 2019 general elections had remarkably reduced the impact of human interferences in the outcome of the elections, assuring that application of technology would be a hallmark in the Anambra election.
Vanguard News Nigeria