Litigations Surrounding Anambra Election, Distracting, INEC Laments

– Says may jeopardize 2023 election if NBA,

 NJC fails to intervene

– Commits to irrevocable use of technology

By Ikeugonna Eleke

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has lamented the level of distraction the commission is facing as a result of litigations arising from the Anambra State governorship primary elections.

The commission said it was frustrating that new court orders from all parts of the country kept flooding the commission’s headquarters on a daily basis, causing it to keep recognising one candidate over the other, and changing same again in the major political parties.

The National Commissioner for Voter Education, Barr Festus Okoye, stated this in Awka last Tuesday during an implementation meeting on voter enlightenment and publicity for the 2021 Anambra State governorship election.

Okoye said, ‘This (litigations) is frustrating. What the commission does in terms of obedience to court orders is that if a judgement comes today, the commission obeys the order because it is the latest in time.

‘If on the same issue, another court of coordinate jurisdiction, or from a court of another judicial division comes to us, because that one is the latest in time, the commission obeys that one.

‘So, what the political parties have been doing, and what they are doing, is that they anticipate the commission, and the moment you’re proceeding, they get court orders. This is impeding our performance and making things difficult.

‘Elections require sanctity and adherence to guidelines. The leadership of the NBA and the NJC should look at this. This is urgent and imperative because if it persists, this can jeopardize the conduct of the 2023 general elections. We are having court orders on a daily basis from courts in all parts of the country and that is not right,’ Okoye said.

Speaking further, Okoye listed 10 variables, which, he said, might shape the way the Anambra election scheduled for November 6 would go.

The variables, he said, included; the COVID-19 pandemic, insecurity, use of technology, litigations, Anambra poll being a stand-alone election, conduct of political parties, the interruption the election would create on the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) and the changing demography, which, he said, showed youths developing interest in politics.

‘Out of the over one million persons who have registered online, over 700, 000 of them are between the ages of 18 and 34. This clearly tells us that youths are taking interest in politics. The election will also be affected by the fact that we are still living under the shadows of a pandemic, and we intend to ensure compliance with COVID-19 protocols.

‘The spectre of insecurity too. Anambra has its fair share of the insecurity in the country, but we believe that if elections have been held in terrorist-ravaged areas, nothing stops election holding here,’ he said.

Okoye disclosed that INEC had delivered all the non-sensitive materials for the election ahead of time, which was why they were saddened when the commission’s headquarters in Awka went up in flames.

His words, ‘This election is going to be a stand-alone election, and almost everyone will be interested in it. There will be focus on this election, governors will be interested, political parties, international community and others. What this means is that the officials of the commission will be under pressure. If it were a general election, people would focus on their areas.

‘Another factor is litigation. I have talked about it. Then, there is technology, and we are also irrevocably committed to the use of technology in conducting this election. All over the world, technology is reducing human interference and Nigeria is not an exception,’ Okoye said.