Falana Challenges INEC Over Bayelsa, Kogi Elections

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Falana

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Femi Falana, SAN and human rights activist, says it is wrong for the Independent National Electoral Commission to decide to hold gubernatorial elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states

FEMI Falana, SAN and human rights activist, on Sunday, October 18, said the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, lacked the power to organise governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states.

Falana said under the 1999 Constitution the INEC required a minimum of five national commissioners to form a quorum to take decision, citing the decision of a federal high court in the case involving the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, and the commission. The INEC currently has two national commissioners.

In a statement he personally signed on Sunday, Falana expressed aversion to a situation whereby the electoral umpire would be operating with only two commissioners when the minimum requirement is five. He argued that since the INEC “is currently constituted by two national commissioners, it lacks the power to fix dates for elections and conduct them.”

The human rights activist said further that the INEC “is not validly constituted as required by section 159 of the 1999 Constitution as amended its decisions are liable to be set aside. Even when the INEC was constituted by a chairman and three other national commissioners in 2010, the Federal High Court held that the electoral body was not competent to take any decision.”

He cited the case of the ACN v. IINEC & Ors, where the court declared the composition of the INEC illegal and unconstitutional on the grounds that the four national commissioners who were in office at the material time could not take any valid decision as the quorum of the INEC should not be less than five national commissioners at any point in time.

Instead of rushing to the Court of Appeal after the trial court delivered its judgment, Falana said that the federal government filled the vacancies in the INEC by appointing 11 national commissioners.

He added that the five- year term of office of the national commissioners of the INEC “has since expired by efflux ion of time. In the same vein, the term of office of over 20 Resident Electoral Commissioners has since expired.

“As the judgment of the Federal High Court cited above is binding on the federal government by virtue of section 287 (3) of the Constitution President Muhammadu Buhari ought to fill the existing vacancies in the INEC without any further delay.

“Otherwise, the results of the forthcoming governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi States as well as those of legislative elections in the various states of the federation are liable to be set aside on account of the illegal composition of the INEC.”

He said further that the INEC “has announced the fixture of dates for the governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi States. In addition, a number of the governorship/legislative election petition tribunals sitting in the various states of the federation have annulled some results of legislative elections due to proven cases of electoral malfeasance.

“The tribunals has ordered the INEC to conduct fresh elections in the relevant constituencies within 90 days with effect from the dates of the verdicts,” he said.

—  Oct 19, 2015 @ 14:10 GMT

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