Many Winners Will Return INEC Certificates – Lawyer Reveals

One human rights activist, Festus Ogun, has predicted that many of the returned certificates issued after the February 25 and March 18 elections in Nigeria will be returned.
In an interview with NAIJALOADED on Tuesday, the legal expert advised successful applicants not to get too comfortable.

The Independent National Election Commission (INEC) has been accused of controversial conduct despite receiving billions of naira in preparation.

The “sin” of the arbitrator included malfunction of the dual-mode voter recognition system ‘BVAS’; the INEC result in the visualization port (IReV) cannot be quickly updated.

Ogun noted that INEC’s “failure to conduct a free, fair, transparent and trustworthy operation” has resulted in hundreds of cases nationwide. However, the attorney said he is confident the shock awaits several winners, who will be sworn in on May 29 and June (federal and state legislators).

“I am involved in quite a number of election cases where I, alongside others, represent both petitioners and respondents.

“This gives me a broad view that even the supposed winners acknowledge that the electioneering process was flawed. Worryingly, some of INEC officials, including RECs and returning officers, were not neutral.

“Lots of the Certificate of Return issued by INEC will be returned. I know, as a matter of fact, that there will be review of some of the outcomes,”

He said.

On how to avoid a repeat of the irregularities witnessed during the elections, the Principal Partner of Festus Ogun Legal demands a system that makes the electoral body “truly independent”.

“This starts from the appointment of INEC leadership; the mode of appointment needs to be reviewed. The Adamawa experience shows clearly that some INEC officials are not neutral.

“These characters, with respect, are a misfit and a product of a system that allows rogue politicians to appoint their cronies into INEC key decision-making positions”,

Ogun added.

Section 132 (7) & (8) of the Electoral Act, 2022 allows for petitions to be filed within 21 days after the declaration of results, while the respondents have 21 days to respond.

The judges at the tribunals have 180 days to deliver judgment, and taking into account the April 15 supplementary elections, verdicts are expected between May and October 2023.


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