The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has called on the leadership of the Judiciary and the Nigeria Bar Association to curb multiple orders and judgments by courts of coordinate jurisdiction on election matters.

INEC made reference to the  November 6  Anambra State governorship poll, saying the legion of  orders and judgments could erode its powers, compromise its independence and affect  the timelines of the 2023 general elections.

INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, raised the alarm yesterday  at the implementation meeting of the Voter Education and Publicity Department in Awka, Anambra State.

He said: “The leadership of the bar association and the leadership of the judiciary must wade into this descent to forum shopping and the multiplicity of orders and judgments from courts of coordinate jurisdiction.

“This is urgent, it is imperative and cannot be carried over to the 2023 general elections..”.

Okoye lamented  that it was becoming increasingly hard for court orders and judgments  to be obeyed because of the antics of aspirants and candidates..

His words:  “The commission has variously and consistently complained at the frequency and consistency with which courts of coordinate jurisdiction from different jurisdictions all over Nigeria assumed jurisdiction and delivered judgments and issued orders with far-reaching implications on the conduct of the Anambra State governorship election.

“Some of the orders have the tendency of eroding the powers of the commission and compromising its independence, powers, and timelines for the conduct of the upcoming election.

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“In our regulations and guidelines for the conduct of elections as well as the timetable and schedule of activities, the commission issues access code to the national chairman of every political party with which they upload the personal particulars and list of their candidates electronically.

“This obviated the demonstrations, fights, and violence normally witnessed in the premises of the commission by different factions of political parties and the national and state branches of political parties.

“Unfortunately, some of the judgments and orders were given especially on the primary elections in Anambra State have bypassed our portal and sought to restore the manual submission of the list and personal particulars of candidates.

“It is also becoming increasingly difficult for the commission to obey court orders and judgments that are the latest in time or the first in time as some of the political parties and the candidates have perfected the art of shopping for the first in time or the latest in time. The planning and preparation for election requires certainty and adherence to timelines.

Okoye stressed  the need for  political parties to “obey and conform to their constitutions and guidelines for the conduct of party primaries as well as the provisions of Section 87 of the Electoral Act.”

He also advised them to “extricate themselves from the web and crisis of endless litigation arising from the conduct of primaries, own their rules, and also comply with the provision of the Electoral Act 2010 [as amended] in all their activities.”.

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He however, assured that INEC remains resolute in its commitment to the delivery of good elections.

Okoye disclosed that INEC  will  commence the conduct of elections in the newly created Polling Units  (PUs) with the November  6 governorship election in Anambra.State.

According to him, political parties will commence campaigns on Sunday but must “strictly  adhere to the COVID-19 protocols contained in the statement released by the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 on July 30.”

He added  that “political campaigns or slogans shall not be tainted with abusive language directly or indirectly, that may likely injure religious, ethnic, tribal or sectional feelings.’’

Parties are also advised against using places designated for religious worship, police stations and public offices   for political campaigns, rallies, and processions.

Okoye  said INEC  would deploy additional staff members  and materials to Anambra State in the next few weeks to accelerate the Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) exercise.

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