Stop dancing naked in the market - Appeal court slams INEC and accused it of being partisan

“Avoid” Zobo

The Abuja Court of Appeal has reprimanded the Independent National Electoral Commissioner, INEC, while accusing him of being partisan.

The court of appeal on Friday 24 November criticized the Commission for appearing before it to act in favor of a party in an electoral dispute, by denying documents it had not only issued but also duly certified.

The court lamented that the electoral body had continued to “dance naked in the market”, although it intended to take a neutral position in electoral disputes.

“INEC, as an institution, must be reminded of its role in an election; be an impartial arbiter between the parties.

“You should stop behaving irresponsibly, bearing in mind that your duty to conduct elections has a direct influence on the peace and well-being of the country.

“INEC’s role in the electoral dispute must be limited to presenting all documents used in an election and explaining why they were used and how they were obtained.

“INEC should stop dancing naked in the market, pretending that no one is seeing their nudity and dance moves,” the court said while delivering the judgment in an election appeal to the Bauchi State House of Assembly.

The main decision of a three-member panel of the court was delivered by Justice KI Amadi.

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

The court considered this evidence before establishing that the election was inconclusive.

Besides nullifying the Certificate of Return issued to Suleiman who ran on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the appellate court directed INEC to conduct a supplementary poll in 10 electoral units in the state within 90 days.

The court further awarded costs of N500,000 against INEC.

The ruling followed an appeal filed with the court by the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Khalid Abdulmalik-Ningi.

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

However, unhappy with the outcome of the election, the APC candidate petitioned the State House of Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal.

The petitioner, among other things, alleged that the election results were canceled due to excessive voting or corrupt practices.

INEC, a defendant in the matter, denied the allegation that there was excessive voting but did not produce any witnesses before the court. Still, the court rejected the petition.

The Court of Appeal faulted the court’s decision and noted that the Appellant brought nine witnesses who testified regarding the various polling units and also produced certified copies of INEC documents to support his case.

It held that in accordance with section 137 of the 2022 Electoral Act, the INEC certified documents were sufficient to support the allegation that the election was not conducted in accordance with the provisions of the law.

The court questioned why INEC denied that the election results were canceled in some polling units when its officials established the same fact in the EC Forms 40G that they signed and submitted to it.


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