Symbol of justice
By Tobi Soniyi
A Federal High Court in Abuja Friday said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has no power to withdraw the certificate of return issued to any person returned winner by its returning officers in an election.
In a judgement in a suit brought before the court by a faction of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in Katsina State challenging the withdrawal of their certificates of return by INEC, the trial judge, Justice Gladys Olotu held that by virtue of Sections 68(1) and 75(1) of the Electoral Act 2010, the electoral body could not recall a certificate of return already issued to a winner of an election, without an order of a tribunal or a competent court of jurisdiction.
Acting on the judgment of the Supreme court which held that it was the internal affair of a political party to choose its candidates for election, INEC issued Yar’Adua with the certificate of return for the district because he was the candidate presented by the party, CPC, but was rejected by INEC earlier on the basis of a Federal High Court’s judgment.
Analysts believed that since CPC won the election, INEC was right to issue certificate of return to Yar’Adua who was presented by CPC as its authentic candidate for the senatorial district.
But justice Olotu said that that INEC acted beyond its powers when it withdrew the certificates of return issued two CPC Senators and eight members of the House of Representatives and the issuance of fresh ones to another set of people.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Clerk of the National Assembly, CPC and ten members of the National Assembly were listed as defendants.