The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said as of February 6, 2023, it had been joined in 1,241 intra-party lawsuits in different courts of law.
INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said this on Thursday, when he hosted a delegation of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) led by their President, Mr. Yakubu Maikyau, at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja. on Thursday.
According to him, the rising number arises due to court cases challenging political parties primaries conducted for the nomination of candidates for the 2023 general elections.
Yakubu said the cases have nothing to do with election conducted by INEC but are litigations that arose from conduct of political parties primaries in 2022.
“Some of the cases have gone to the Federal High Court, some are before the Court of Appeal, and others are before the Supreme Court. On per-election litigation alone as at Monday this week, February 6, INEC has been joined in 1241 cases making us one of the most litigated against agencies in the country.
“These cases have nothing to do with elections conducted by INEC. They are primary elections conducted by political parties but each time they go to court, they join the commission and we have to engage either our own in-house lawyers or we transfer the cases out to external legal firms to represent the commission.
“Out of these 1241 cases, over 300 are right now before the Court of Appeal. And 155 before the Supreme Court as at Monday this week,” Yakubu said.
He, therefore, requested the support of the NBA in handling the cases.
He said, “So we will appreciate the support of the Bar Association in handling some of these cases. I know that you have the capacity to do some of these cases, particularly pro bono service to the nation.”
The INEC boss assured the NBA delegation that aside conducting a free, fair and credible elections, the commission was equally committed to verifiable elections.
He said, “Our hope is that citizens will even know the outcome of elections before we make a formal declaration of result and this is what has been encouraging us to strengthen and deepen the use of technology in elections.
“As you said, the allegiance of the commission is to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and our loyalty is only to the people of Nigeria, the voters and will remain unshaken in ensuring that we deliver an election that truly reflects the wishes of Nigerians.”
Speaking earlier, NBA President assured that the association would assist INEC in protecting its independence and achieving its mandates.
“We are solidly behind your administration and would not allow any attempt by anyone or any group of persons to intimidate, or harass INEC in the discharge of its constitutional responsibility,” he said.