Civil society cautions INEC over partisanship
A civil society organization, the Center for Youth Empowerment and Development has advised the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to stop engaging as defence counsel private legal practitioners who are already engaged to defend candidates who have been declared winners in various elections.
In a letter addressed to the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, by the Executive Director, The Center for Youth Empowerment and Development, Mr. Audu Liberty Oseni, the civil society body said such practice totally negates the neutrality and independence of the electoral umpire.
The letter titled, “The partisan role of private lawyers engaged by INEC in election cases: Time to halt the trend,” and dated, November 27, 2015, states, “we are constrained to bring to your attention certain ugly developments at the Election Tribunals and the appellate Courts across the country.
It is our wish to bring the developments to your attention before incalculable harm is further done to the image of INEC. ” Citing various judicial precedents, the letter states that: “it is unethical for those who defended the introduction of Card Reader as a pre-election matter in courts to attack and stigmatize the device at Election Tribunals” in reference to the role of the aforementioned legal practitioners. Furthermore, the Center for Youth Empowerment and Development recommended that, “INEC should as a matter of general policy, issue a directive to all its lawyers to withdraw forthwith all appeals challenging the decisions of the Election Tribunals.
The candidates and political parties should be left to continue at the Court of Appeal. INEC as an umpire cannot take sides during appeals and should be content with observing the candidates. At the end of the appeals, INEC should simply abide with the final orders given by the appellate courts”.