Corruption and Underdevelopment

Regulate arbitrary defections of politicians, Agbakoba SAN urges INEC

By Paul Michael

Former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olisa Agbakoba SAN, said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) needs to act as a strong regulator of the electoral process.

In a statement on Thursday, Agbakoba said INEC has allowed the National Assembly to encroach on its powers concerning the electronic transmission of results.

The learned silk said it is important to restate the constitutional powers of INEC as the ultimate regulator of the electoral process.

He expressed disappointment that INEC appears to have forgotten the powers assigned to it regarding the political and electoral process.

INEC
INEC

“For example, when the National Assembly voted to reject electronic transmission of election results, INEC in the course of the debate, was mostly silent and did not assert itself even when the Constitution confers on INEC the powers to ‘organize, undertake and supervise’ elections,” the statement said.

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He added, “The arbitrary defections of politicians from one party to another call for strong regulatory control by INEC. The lack of internal democracy in most political parties has failed to receive a robust regulatory response by INEC.

“The Nigerian political system needs INEC to act as a strong regulator. I suggest that INEC is entitled to withdraw certificates of return issued to elected officeholders who defect. INEC ought not to be afraid of getting it wrong. INEC must be seen as a firm referee with clear rules and a determination to enforce those rules, The Trumpet gathered.

“To demonstrate this, INEC needs to clarify its position on how the 2023 elections will be conducted. INECs recent statement that elections will be conducted manually and electronically is confusing – as it allows politicians opportunity for mischief. The rules set out by INEC must be clear on how votes will be counted.

“Finally, INEC must be impartial in election petitions. It must be neutral. INEC’s proper role is to assist the courts to resolve election disputes. Unfortunately, generally, INEC has acted as a defendant in election petitions. This is very wrong.

“I hope the 2023 election will enable INEC to play its proper role as a strong impartial regulator of elections.”

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