Guber Supplementary: Don’t destroy democracy – HURIWA tells courts; INEC

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Worried about the incessant and sinister abuses of exparte injunctions by judges to undermine the decisions of the Independent National Electoral Commission to proceed with collation of governorship election results in Rivers, Adamawa and Bauchi, the judiciary has been cautioned to check these abuses.

Making the appeal is the leading pro-democracy and non-governmental organization – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) which also asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to scrutinize the financial transactions of the judges who recently gave exparte orders against INEC to see if they were financially induced.

HURIWA said under section 285 of the Nigerian Constitution, the regular courts lacks jurisdiction to entertain post-election litigation even as only the election Tribunal has the constitutional powers to determine any disputes arising from an election that has already been conducted.

Specifically section 285 (1) and (2) states thus: “There shall be established for the Federation one or more election tribunals to be known as the National Assembly Election Tribunals which shall, to the exclusion of any or tribunal, have original jurisdiction to hear and determine petitions as to whether – (a) any person has been validly elected as a member of the National Assembly; (b) the term of office of any person under this Constitution has ceased; (c) the seat of a member of the Senate or a member of the House of Representatives has vacant; and (d) a question or petition brought before the election tribunal has been properly or improperly brought.

(2) There shall be established in each State of the Federation one or more election tribunals to be known as the Governorship and Legislative Houses Election Tribunals which shall, to the exclusion of any court or tribunal, have original jurisdiction to hear and determine petitions as to whether any person has been validly elected to the office of Governor or Deputy Governor or as a member of any legislative house.”

HURIWA referred the erring judges to the observations of Mahmud Mohammed, justice of the Supreme Court (as he then was) in the case of Ugwu versus Ararume (2007 12 NWLR (PT 1048) 367 at 511 where he stated thus: “The Electoral Act and Political Party Constitutions must be seen as complementing the Constitution in formulating broader rules, regulations and operation mechanisms for both INEC and the political parties for administrative convenience. Where any such enactment, rules or policies comes into conflict with any section of the Constitution… Politics is not anarchy; it is not disorderliness. It must be punctuated by justice, fairness and orderliness.”

HURIWA also condemned the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) under Yakubu Mahmood for displaying crass partisanship in favour of the All Progressives Congress (APC)  by illegally declaring elections in Kano, Sokoto, Bauchi, Adamawa and Rivers where People’s Democratic Party were at the verge of emerging victorious, as either suspended or inconclusive.

HURIWA calls the judges who slammed ex parte orders stopping INEC from concluding the polls in those states ENEMIES OF DEMOCRACY WHO ARE attempting to create spectacular constitutional crisis and to destroy democracy.

HURIWA recalled that a state High Court in Yola had ordered an injunction restraining the Independent National Electoral Commission from conducting a supplementary governorship election in Adamawa State on 23rd March.

Justice Abdulaziz Waziri of State High Court gave the order following a motion ex parte filed by Movement of Restoration for Defence of Democracy, MRPD.

“I hereby made the following orders: The defendant herein the Independent National Electoral Commission is restrained whether by themselves, their agents, servants, representatives, nominees or any other person from proceeding with the supplementary election with respect to Adamawa State Governorship pending the hearing and determination of Motion on notice,” the judge ordered.

INEC had ordered a rerun in six states, including Adamawa State.

In Adamawa State, electoral commission declared the poll inconclusive after collating results from all the 21 local government areas in the state.

The state returning officer, Andrew Haruna, said the margin of votes between the People’s Democratic Party candidate, Ahmadu Fintiri who score higher votes and his All Progressives Congress counterpart, Governor Muhammad Jibrilla, is lesser than total votes voided in about 40 polling units.

Haruna said there are 40,988 votes that were cancelled in 44 polling units across the state. The margin between the two parties was 32,476.

The case was adjourned to 21st of March for hearing of a motion for Interlocutory injunction.

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