Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) wednesday in Abuja, explained why the commission introduced Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in addressing many of the electoral dispute in the country.
Secretary to the commission, Augusta Ogakwu, who gave the explanation wednesday at a public lecture entitled: â€œThe Role of Mediation in Settling Election Disputesâ€ said, the mechanism is capable of drastically reducing causes of electoral dispute.
The lecture, which was organised by the Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators (ICMC), was aimed at sensitising members of the public, political politicians on the need to reduce burdens on courts over matters that could best be resolved through other means.
â€œINEC has over the past few years systematically infused ADR processes into all aspects of its operations along with other innovations in order to achieve a drastic reduction in the causes of electoral disputes,â€ she said.
She identified the absence of internal democracy as the major cause of electoral dispute and advised political parties to introduce ADR mechanism in resolving issues in their party.
According to Ogakwu, through mediation, parties are encouraged to find their own creative solutions to their conflicts, adding that if parties can find their own solutions, they are more likely to be sustainable.
â€œWith reference to political parties for instance, the persistent non adherence to internal democracy generated a lot of disputes which escalated when persons who did not emerge through validly conducted primaries were submitted to the commission as candidates.
Pre-election intra party litigation became prevalent as a result of such cases and some appeals arising from them remained unresolved for the duration of the term of office in contention.
Ogakwu said the commission in 2009, established itâ€™s Alternative Dispute Resolution Unit to propagate and implement the use of ADR in electoral disputes, workplace conflicts and others.
She urged the ADR professionals to work more with political actors in order to translate theory to practice as the country prepares for the 2019 general election.
Also speaking, Chairman of the Abuja branch of ICMC, Dr. Nulraen Dindi, disclosed that the institute trains peace builders in the nation.
â€œAs we approach the 2019 elections which portends to be a deciding time for Nigerians, we as peace builders have seen the need to bring together the stakeholders to consider how mediation can play a role in keeping to a minimum, the rancour that seems to follow our elections.â€
The FCT Chief Judge, Justice Ishaq Bello, who was represented by Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf, remarked that the amount of resources and time deployed in settling election disputes are enormous and expressed confidence that if politicians can use ADR in resolving issues, it would afford judges ample time to attend to other matters.