Olanipekun: Powers Arrogated to INEC Chairman in Section 65 of Electoral Act Dangerous

Gbenga Sodeinde in Ado Ekiti

Legal luminary, Chief Wole Olanipekun has kicked against Section 65 of the Electoral Act, describing it as a very dangerous act in the country’s electoral system, which empowers the Chief Returning Officer of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to return and also review his decision.

Olanipekun, made the remarks yesterday when he paid a private visit to Governor Biodun Oyebanji, in his office in Ado-Ekiti yesterday.

Olanipekun, said: “To me is a very dangerous section, so novel in the sense that, here you have a section that empowers a returning officer after returning to review his decision within a period of seven days”

According to the Senior Advocate of Nigeria, “the returning officer is not a court of law, not a tribunal, not vested with jurisdiction to exercise quasi- decision or to assume jurisdiction over any matter that is judicial in nature.”

According to the former NBA President, “that section of the electoral act, you are giving a returning officer, and by extension INEC, the power to do and undo.”

He pointed out that he was not aware of any similar section in previous electoral acts of any country in the world.

“When you now invest in a returning officer of INEC, the power to do and undo, the power to return and review his decision is dangerous to the polity.

“The Chief Returning Officer, is the Chairman of INEC, meaning you can return someone as President today, and tomorrow, when there are agitations here and there, he may withdraw his decision, saying, ‘I am revising myself and am now returning somebody else”

Olanipekun, said he was so surprised that the National Assembly allowed that section to creep into the electoral act which they submitted to Mr. President for signing.

 He said the lawmakers could still remove that proviso and called on all stakeholders, particularly the political parties to “shine their eyes”, to monitor INEC, the returning officers, so that nothing untoward happens to any party, any candidate returned to be unreturned again.

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