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Institute of Mediators, INEC map out strategies to reduce election litigations

Independent National Electoral Commission's (INEC) Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu (left), with the President, Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators, Barrister Emeka Obegolu, after their meeting at INEC headquarters, Abuja. PHOTO: BASIL NWAGUGU

By Nathaniel Gana

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has urged the Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators (ICMC) to identify strategies that would reduce violence and litigations in Nigeria’s .electoral process.

The Commission’s Chairman, Prof. Yakubu Mahmood made the call on 22nd August when members of the Institute’s Council, led by its President, Barrister Emeka Obegolu, paid him a courtesy visit in Abuja.

The INEC Chairman noted that there was a lot the Commission and the ICMC could achieve in ensuring that elections were free, fair and devoid of rancor. He said: “If we can mediate and if all of us can be on the same page, we can conduct our elections seamlessly, with less litigation, less the amount of money spent in prosecuting those processes of litigation and our elections would always be conclusive”.

Delegation of the Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators with the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu (4th from right), National Commissioners Adekunle Ogunmola (left) and Amina Zakari (3rd from left) after the visit.

Underscoring the important role of Alternative Dispute Resolution in the electoral process, Prof. Yakubu regretted that the Nigerian political space was conflict prone. He said: “wherever the Commission had difficulty (in concluding elections), it was simply because of violence,” adding, “the Commission has been dragged to court over 1000 times since the 2015 general elections. This is always at a cost to the Commission and the country. It would be ultimately cheaper for everybody, if we have a seamless process. And that process can be achieved, not just by the legislation enabling us to conduct elections and legal processes, but also the intervention of Institutes such as the ICMC.”

Earlier, the institute’s President, Barr. Emeka Obegolu had commended the Commission’s leadership for its dedication towards ensuring that Alternative Dispute Resolution was deployed to resolve party disputes.

He said the Council members’ visit was to further strengthen the partnership between the ICMC and INEC, as well as chart a way forward for the deployment of the ADR tool in other aspects of the electoral process to reduce litigations, violence and advance the cause of democracy in Nigeria.

The ICMC President also informed the INEC Chairman of the Institute’s decision to recognize his immense contributions to the deployment of ADR in the country’s political space by conferring an honorary fellowship of the Institute on him, at their forthcoming induction for new members.