INEC looks back on 2023 elections amid new A'Court verdict, Jega, Babachir and others

INEC looks back on 2023 elections amid new A’Court verdict, Jega, Babachir and others

• Former committee chair talks about how prominent politicians manipulate voter registration
• INEC is too centralized and needs to be restructured by 2027, analysts say
• Babachir: 2023 polls show divisions among Nigerians along religious and ethnic lines
• Court vacates Nasarawa State Governor Sule’s removal from office, Ombugadu heads to S’Court
• Court of Appeal dismisses PDP’s case against Governor Gombe Inuwa.
• Kano APC stakeholders denounce alleged threat to life, property

Professor Attahiru Jega, former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and Mr. Babachir Lawal, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), have opened up about the worrying conduct of elections in Nigeria.

Jega yesterday revealed how prominent politicians are compromising security and registration authorities and manipulating voter registration. Mr. Jega said this while delivering the keynote address at a policy roundtable on “Improving the health of Nigeria’s voter rolls” organized by Yaaga Africa in Abuja. The scope and scale of the registration of minors and aliens has been grossly exaggerated and politicized. This is a major challenge because it is caused by manipulation of the registration process, corruption, and what could be termed “community acquiescence.”

“For example, in some regions, during the registration period, prominent politicians organize such illegal activities, threaten and endanger security authorities and registration personnel, and such acts are carried out. In the meantime, we are trying to make local residents look away and not say anything.”

Jega said multiple registrants are also finding ways to vote at voting units. He suggested improved vigilance, effective policing, arrests and public education as possible remedies for the development.

He said having well-trained and courageous registered personnel who can withstand temptations and threats from politicians would go a long way in addressing the threat.

Babashir Lawal said the 2023 general elections had a negative impact on national unity and divided Nigerians along ethnic and religious lines.

The former SGF said in an interview with BBC Hausa monitored in Kaduna yesterday that divisions have become very deep. People became suspicious of each other and chose to remain private.

He said, “The situation is now completely deteriorating in the north. We have gone back to the previous days. The Yoruba people are independent. The Igbo people are independent. And we northerners are Christians. and Muslims. There are also tribes among us Christians, and perhaps the Tiv are here as well. We have Idoma, we have Kirba. We have Michika here. This is what we have been trying to avoid. We are divided. How can we achieve unity? It is not possible now.”

Furthermore, he added: “How can we come together when we have committed a massacre ourselves and now we want to piece things together? It’s outrageous. The north has now convened a meeting of the elders of the region. Is there anyone who can deliberate and unite them? There is none. I understand that there were groups trying to come together and unite, but they were mainly Muslim groups or Christian groups. You’ll understand.”

In this regard, political analyst Antetokounmpo Pearce said Nigeria needs a complete overhaul of its electoral system before the 2027 general elections in order to move forward democratically.

Mr Pearce told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos yesterday that free and fair elections remain the panacea for growth and development. He said, “Unless we change the way INEC operates in Nigeria, we cannot have free, fair and credible elections.” On the other hand, good leaders may not emerge for nation-building.

“Nigeria may not be able to produce reliable election results unless the practice of the president, who is the party in the game, appoints the INEC chairman. In which country in the world, especially in federations, does the president appoint the electoral commissioner? Nor.

“Also, the INEC chairman cannot be one person in one state, one place. It is too centralized. That is why when we talk about government restructuring, we advocate decentralization. INEC has to be completely restructured, just like the US. We have to learn something.”

He called on the National Assembly to amend the electoral law to strip the president of the power to appoint the INEC chairman and other officers.

This was made yesterday when the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja ruled to annul the election of Nasarawa State Governor Abdullahi Sule.

In a unanimous decision, the three-judge panel annulled the verdict of the Nasarawa State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal that removed Mr Sule of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

In the lead verdict handed down by Justice Uchechukwu Onuemenam, the court relied on legally inadmissible evidence to impeach Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate David Ombugadu from the 2016 gubernatorial election. withheld evidence before declaring him the rightful winner. State on March 18th.

According to the court, the court erred in relying on the evidence of eight of the witnesses presented by the PDP candidates, whose statements on oath were not brought forward with the petition.

The Court of Appeal held that Article 285(5) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), Article 132(7) of the Elections Act 2022, and Article 4(5)(6) and Article 14(2) of the First Schedule to the Constitution. According to the Election Law, all oaths must be filed together with the petition within the legally allocated deadline.

“When a trial court admits and acts upon illegally inadmissible evidence, it is the duty of the appellate court to ensure that such illegally inadmissible evidence is expunged.

“Courts are only allowed to act on evidence that is legally admissible. If the trial court illegally admitted a document, the appellate court may exclude that document and discount the evidence.” I have something to do.”

The Court of Appeal proceeded to quash all evidence and exhibits submitted to the court by the witnesses. The court also set aside a court order directing the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Mr. Sule as the winner of the gubernatorial election.

But Ombugadu said he would go to the Supreme Court to get his mandate back. He called the appeals court’s decision a rape of truth and said he hoped the Supreme Court would correct the error and declare him a winner.

Ombugadu addressed his supporters at his residence immediately after the verdict. He appealed to supporters and residents of Nasarawa to remain calm, saying light will ultimately triumph over darkness. He also advised them to seek divine intervention through prayer rather than taking the law into their hands.

“As law-abiding citizens, we should not take the law into our hands without having gone through all the legal steps to recover our obligations. There are other similar cases that have been struck down by the Supreme Court,” he said.

The verdict sparked a light protest at the Nasarawa Egon Local Assembly, but it was quelled by military personnel.
The Court of Appeal in Abuja also upheld the judgment of the Gombe State Governors Election Tribunal which rejected the petition of the PDP seeking re-election of Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya of the APC.

INEC announced on March 18 that Yahaya was the winner of the Guber vote with 342,821 votes. PDP’s Muhammad Jibrin Barde is said to have scored 233,131 points.

Balde approached the court and argued that the selection of the governor was not in accordance with the provisions of the electoral law. Mr. Balde’s lawyer argued that during the voting, PDP candidates received a majority of the legal votes, but multiple thumbprinting and stuffing of ballot boxes took place in nine localities. Congress is an area that supports Yahaya.

However, the court’s three-member panel, chaired by Justice SB Belgore, dismissed PDP’s application as without merit. The PDP candidates then petitioned the Court of Appeals for relief.

Yesterday, in its judgment, the Court of Appeal agreed with the court’s opinion that PDP’s case is invalid on the merits. This came as the PDP in Cross River State said it would challenge Wednesday’s Court of Appeal ruling that recognized Governor Bassey Otu as the winner of the March 18 gubernatorial election in the state.

The party’s decision to contest Mr Otu’s election victory was contained in a statement issued by the state Public Relations Secretary, Mike Ojisi, in Calabar yesterday.

Mr Ojisi, while urging PDP supporters to remain calm, said the Court of Appeal’s judgment did not reflect complete confidence in the party’s position on the process leading to the elections. “While we are saddened by this temporary setback, we are glad there is still room on the Supreme Court. This is the beauty of our judicial system and our democracy,” he said.

“We ask all our supporters and party members to remain calm as we remain committed to exploring our legal options and exhausting all legal avenues to recover our responsibilities.” .”

But the governor, who had previously sought a stay on further litigation on the issue, said he remained unmoved by the petition against his election victory.

Meanwhile, some APC officials in Kano State are crying out over alleged threats to their lives by supporters of the ruling New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP). The stakeholders led by Rabiu Sulaiman Bichi, at a press conference held at the APC National Secretariat in Abuja, claimed that the NNPP-led administration has perfected its plan to unleash mayhem in the state.

They said this would be held in the name of holding a mass rally tomorrow to protest the judgment of the Court of Appeal that declared the APC to have won the governorship election.

He said: “The situation appears to have worsened since embattled NNPP leader Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso returned to Kano on Sunday and held a meeting of party officials there. A series of activities including liberation and elimination of APC.

“According to information we have received from reliable sources, they are planning a massive protest on Saturday (tomorrow) during which key APC figures will be targeted and eliminated if possible. That’s what it is.”

All concerned, including former Commissioners, former and current members of the State House of Assembly, and former and current appointees of the State and Federal Governments, remain law-abiding citizens and do not do anything that would disturb the peace of Kano. He assured me that nothing would be done.

Nevertheless, they added that they would not hesitate to protect their lives and property and called on the state police command and other security agencies to prevent the breakdown of law and order.


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