The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has disclosed that it was faced with over 1,000 pre-election litigations in the build-up to the 2023 general election.
According to the electoral umpire, the pre-election litigations arose from primaries conducted by political parties, substitution of candidates, and failure of parties to adhere to their constitution and timetable for the conduct of the election.
Speaking during a presentation at a two-day capacity workshop for journalists in Akwanga Nasarawa State, INEC Director, Legal Drafting and Clearance, Mrs Oluwatoyin Babalola, said pre-election litigations matter arose before the conduct of the 2023 election as provided for in Section 285(14) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
She said most of the cases were borne out of a lack of internal party democracy and the failure of political parties to adhere to their constitutions and guidelines.
Babalola explained that the unique nature of pre-election matters could not be overlooked because judgments in that regard could negatively impact planning, logistics, funding, and certainty of participants in the conduct of the election.
The INEC official, while delivering her presentation titled ‘Effects of Litigation on INEC’s Preparations for Kogi, Imo, And Bayelsa Governorship Election.’ explained that those judgments were sometimes given on the eve of the election, thereby prohibiting INEC from conducting elections for certain positions, replacing candidates after the printing of ballot papers, etc.
Situations like this affected logistics and caused an eventual colossal waste of resources.
“Beyond the impact of pre-election matters on preparation for the election, the commission is sometimes ordered to withdraw the certificate of return issued to a candidate who emerged winner and give a fresh certificate of return to a judgment creditor.
After the 2019 general elections, the commission was ordered to issue 94 certificates of return in pre-election matters,” she added.