COURTS ARE NOT EXPECTED TO HANDLE ELECTION MATTERS- CSOS

Clement Nwankwo is the Executive Director of Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC)

The Nigeria Civil Society Situation room has described as illegal and unconstitutional the involvement of the judiciary in election matters that is ordinarily outside the purview of the courts.Specifically, the situation room said instances where courts dished out orders stopping collation of results and restraining the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from performing its constitutional responsibilities were an abuse of the legal system.

Addressing a press conference yesterday in Abuja, head of the situation room, Clement Nwankwo, said numerous court injunctions obtained by politicians were affecting the credibility of the elections.“Situation room expresses concern about the emerging trend of escalating judicial involvement in what should ordinarily be matters outside the purview of the courts across the country. The courts have gotten involved in the electoral litigations and disputations in a manner that weakens the credibility of our electoral system issuing perplexing orders and injunctions that constrain the electoral umpire’s ability to fulfil its constitutional functions of conducting elections.”

He noted that procedures for handling of election matters are well spelt out in the constitution, adding that while the courts are to act on pre-election matters, the election tribunals are to sit on election and post-election matters.

According to him, the trend, if allowed to continue, might dent the image and respect for the courts and justice system as well as causing damage to the credibility of the electoral process.He called on the National Judicial Council (NJC) to stop the court from sitting on cases not under its jurisdiction.

Nwankwo also pointed out that due to the close contest and high stakes in the supplementary elections, there are indications for serious local instability that might further affect the “already damaged credibility of Nigeria as a whole.”He said while it is illegal for security agencies to operate outside the role as defined by INEC, they must conduct themselves in a non-partisan and professional manner.He called on INEC to ensure that logistics are well in place and collations of results are conducted in a transparent manner.



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