By Nathaniel Gana
3rd February 2020
In the aftermath of the recently conducted 28 Court ordered re-run elections across 11 states, held on the 25th of January 2020, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has upheld and defended the integrity of its staff, saying they are not partisan.
The Commission explained that the Court-ordered rerun elections were “conducted under very difficult circumstances occasioned by the desperation of some political actors bent on compromising the electoral process”.
The affirmation and vote of confidence in the Commission’s staff was contained in a press statement issued on 3rd February by the Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee (IVEC), Festus Okoye.
Okoye observed: “staff of the Commission risked their lives, performed under delicate conditions and engaged in electoral operations aimed at protecting the integrity of the process and ensuring credible outcomes. The Commission conducted the court-ordered re-run elections under very difficult circumstances occasioned by the desperation and unwholesome activities of some of the political actors bent on compromising and disrupting the process, thus endangering the safety of the staff and attempting to secure their predetermined outcomes.”
He continued: “The Commission’s code of conduct ensures that all our staff remain non-partisan in the discharge of their official duties. This is the only way they can maintain the delicate balance between all the contending political parties and candidates in the political process.”
He said it was “unhelpful and counterproductive’ for anyone to “profile senior staff of the Commission operating in any part of the country and paint them with the brush of partisanship just to score political points”.
Speaking on the verdicts of Election Petition Tribunals, Okoye maintained that the Commission will not be drawn into debates on the judgements, but would rather focus on pushing for electoral reforms that would address any flaws observed in previous elections.
The statement partly reads: “the Commission will resist the invitation to be drawn into the debate on the propriety, correctness or otherwise of the decisions of the various Election Petitions Tribunals and the Courts as the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), and the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) have clearly and comprehensively delineated the powers and areas of jurisdiction of various institutions of our democracy. Decisions of courts and tribunal are final and the rule of law dictates that all authorities and persons give effect to them”.
“Rather, the Commission will focus on its efforts and that of other institutions to bring about necessary reforms to give Nigerians comprehensive and robust electoral framework that will take care of perceived and identified flaws and lacunae in the electoral process. The Commission enjoins Political Parties and Candidates to develop the democratic spirit and assist the Commission in the conduct of free and transparent elections.
Okoye assured Nigerians that the Commission will remain determined to continue with improvements in the electoral process and solidify the sovereign right of the Nigerian people to freely choose their representatives”.
In related development, the Commission also acknowledged two fire incidents at its offices in Anambra and Imo states. It explained that the incidents have been reported to the appropriate authorities in the affected states for investigation.
Okoye said: “Two fire incidents were reported at INEC offices in Idemili North Local Government area in Anambra State and Orlu Local Government Area in Imo state at the weekend. The Commission has reported the two incidents to the Police and Fire Service in the respective states and investigations are underway to determine the causes. Although, no life was lost, the extent of the damage is still being assessed”.