….Politicians employ unconventional tactics to get Returning Officers to return them elected.
…Obviously, persons who seek elective offices could perceive in this judgement an irrelevance of due process…
The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC has announced that it had complied with a court judgement which ordered it to issue a Certificate of Return to Imo West Senator-elect, Rochas Okorocha, but would appeal the court judgement.
The commission which stated that there could be dire consequences for Nigeria’s democracy if left unchallenged raised concerns about the possible resort by partisans to the Machiavellian principle of the end justifying the means.
Recall that the returning officer of the election in question said on national television that he was reading the result under duress, making INEC to withhold the certificate of return.
Speaking after the commission met to deliberate on the court judgement, INEC National Commissioner in charge of Information and Voter Education, Barr. Festus Okoye expressed fears that politicians could employ unconventional tactics to get Returning Officers to return them elected with the hope that such declarations are cast in stone in future.
Setting the record straight, Okoye said the Commission expressed profound concerns about the likely consequences of this judgement for Nigeria’s electoral process in particular and democracy in general.
“Obviously, persons who seek elective offices could perceive in this judgement an irrelevance of due process and acting within the law.
“It is not farfetched that some of them could in future disregard laid down processes, including voting, arm themselves and mobilize thugs and compel Returning Officers to declare them elected, irrespective of the true outcomes of elections.
“Moreover, it may become increasingly difficult for the Commission to convince its officials that they are safe to carry out their legitimate functions without fear of being harassed, held to ransom or visited with bodily harm”, the Commission lamented.
INEC at its meeting on Tuesday considered 14 memoranda involving Judgements and Orders in pre-election matters relating to the issuance of Certificates and or withdrawal of Certificates already issued in pre-election matters.