Mikael Joshua, Abuja
The Atiku Alliance for Good Governance (TAAGG) has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to save Nigeria’s democracy by upholding extant laws that affect the conduct of the country’s Presidential and National Assembly elections and invalidating discredited polls where necessary, as recommended by law.
This is sequel to the admission by the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, that the election through which Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), was declared winner, was largely flawed and did not fully comply with the laws guiding its conduct.
Prof. Yakubu had during a meeting with INEC Commissioners in Abuja on Saturday admitted that the election suffered major challenges including “implementation failures” and “behaviour of some election personnel at different levels”.
Commenting on the development, TAAGG said in a statement in Lagos signed by its leader, Obiora Okonkwo that INEC ought now to use available legal windows to review the elections and invalidate those that were grossly challenged.
Listing available constitutional provisions available to the Commission, Okonkwo said INEC is lawfully empowered to review the conduct of the election and withhold the issuance of a certificate of return to persons whose victory was marred by “implementation failures” and “behaviour of election personnel”.
The TAAGG leader cited Sections 134 (1)9b) of the Electoral Act as empowering INEC to review the elections and suspend the issuance of certificates to contested elections.
Specifically, Section 134(1)(b)(c) of the Electoral Act reads: An election may be questioned on any of these grounds; (b) the election was invalid by reason of corrupt practices and non-compliance with the provisions of this Act, or, (c) the respondent was not duly elected by majority of lawful votes cast at the election.
Okonkwo argued by the admission of the INEC chairman, and his decision to penalize officials who aided and abetted the flaws recorded in the presidential election, the Commission was now morally and legally bound to withhold the issuance of certificate of return to persons whose elections are disputed on account of the irregularities pointed out by the chairman.
“By the admission of the INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, it is obvious that the Presidential and National Assembly election in Nigeria did not satisfy the law as spelt out by the Electoral Act. For this reason, therefore, it is expected that the Chairman should, standing on extant lawful provisions, review the conduct of his officials in the performance of their duty on election day and where found to have compromised, not only should they be penalized, but the specific results affected by heir compromise should be isolated and discounted from the total votes cast and threated as invalid votes.
“This is the surest way of sanitizing the electoral system because it will make no sense to penalize INEC officers found to have compromised the election and yet retain the compromised result. Allowing such compromised results to stand makes nonsense of any effort to strengthen the electoral system in Nigeria and further jeopardises Nigeria’s march to steady democracy.
“For us in TAAGG, we believe that the success of Nigeria in sanitizing its electoral system by ensuring that people did not benefit from compromised results, and that the rule of law prevails at all times, will be a major boost to the growth of democracy in Africa, especially in West Africa where we have seen a gradual return of military rule owing to flawed elections and lack of respect for the rule of law.
“So, we urge Prof. Yakubu and INEC management to show courage by ensuring that a legal review of the presidential election in Nigeria is followed up with sanctions on erring electoral officers as well as voiding compromised election results where applicable and in accordance with”, he said.