61 Political Parties Drag INEC to Court over Election Guidelines

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By Udora Orizu in Abuja

The controversy surrounding the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Draft Guidelines for the general election rejected by 61 political parties few days ago has taken a new dimension after majority of chairmen of various political parties resolved to head to court today to stop INEC from releasing the guideline.

The suit, which will be filled at the Federal High court, has four party chieftains suing on behalf of the other 61 political parties against the guideline.

The plaintiffs include Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere (APP), Dr. Sam Eke (GPN), Nsehe Nseobong (RPP) and Kenneth Udeze (AAP).

They are seeking an exparte application for an injunction to restrain the INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, from proceeding with the planned release of the guideline, which majority of the political parties have rejected over non-consultation, obnoxious clauses and the violation of the constitution.

In a statement issued by Ugochinyere of APP, he said the chairmen were also asking the court to quash some sections of the draft guideline, which were in conflict with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution, including the obnoxious provisions inserted into the guideline, which will lead to massive rigging of the elections.

He said the party chairmen were insistent that in order to have a free and fair election, the obnoxious clauses contained in the guideline, which do not promote free and fair elections, must be expunged.

He also clarified that the INEC Chairman must summon an emergency meeting of the party chairmen to resolve the grey areas contained in the guidelines and prevent the election from running into a hitch and credibility crisis before the day of election.

“The parties still insist that the chairman of INEC retains the 2011 and 2015 separate accreditation and separate voting system, which Nigerian voters are fully familiar with and avoid creating confusion and loophole for massive tampering of result with the continuous/same time accreditation and voting. INEC recently tried the method in few re-runs but that is not enough to extend such voting method to all parts of the country few weeks to the election,” Ugochinyere declared.

He further said the party chairmen are currently mobilising more party leaders to move against the INEC chairman in the event that he goes ahead to issue out the guideline without the input of the political parties and without removing the obnoxious clauses which they believe will avert a free and fair election.

“The options on the table of the political parties’ chairmen will not stop on tomorrow’s court action but will include a vote of no confidence on the INEC chairman and the commission, including a call to step down and a persona non grata declaration and mass protest to alert Nigerians that the 2019 election processes have been manipulated.”