Polls: Group Demands INEC’s Impartiality in Etiti-Uzo Federal Constituency

Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

A group, Total Support for the Rule of Law and Justice Initiatives, has demanded impartiality of the the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in all the pre-election matters going across the country, especially that of Igbo Etiti/Uzo Uwani Federal Constituency of Enugu State.

Its Director, Chidi Odo while addressing a press conference yesterday in Abuja, accused the electoral body of bias for allegedly supporting the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) House of Representatives candidate for Igbo Etiti/Uzo Uwani Federal Constituency of Enugu State, Hon. Martins Okey, against the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Sam Ekwueme.

The group said having closely monitored most of the pre-election cases going on across the country, it was disturbed and worried about the position of the electoral body especially in suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/2291/2033, which is before Hon. Justice J. B. Omotosho of the Federal High Court, Abuja.

It said: “The Plaintiffs, Chief Sam Ekwueme and the All Progressives Congress (APC) approached the court seeking for nullification of the candidature of Rt. Hon. Martins Okey, a serving Member of the Federal House of Representatives and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party sued as defendants in the suit on the ground of the failure of the Peoples Democratic Party to comply with section 77(3) of the Electoral Act (As amended) which made it mandatory that Peoples Democratic Party must submit their its party register not later than 30 days to its Primary Election.”

The group stressed that INEC was joined in the suit as a statutory body established for conduct of elections in Nigeria and also to monitor and regulate the activities of political parties. 

It explained that the Commission was joined as a necessary party to appear before the court as impartial umpire to provide the following;

“Whether the Peoples Democratic Party complied with the provision of Section 77(3) of the Electoral Act (As amended)

“Whether the Peoples Democratic Party, Enugu State Chapter has been communicating to the Commission through the State office or the National Party communicating to the National Headquarters of the Commission.”

The group alleged that it was most disheartening that the commission sided with a candidate against another party in an election that the commission was going to conduct.

The group said: “The position of the Independent National Electoral Commission in the process so filed by A. S Subair and Olaniyi Anjori of counsel is unacceptable to be the position of an independent umpire and we call on the Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission to immediately debrief the lawyers and watch the dirty colour they have painted the commission as their documents evidenced bias, compromise and an impartial umpire.”

It added with the position so far taken by the commission, it was clear that the commission had allegedly chosen Okey as their choice candidate and working hard to protect him. 

It added: “We have so far written a letter dated 1/02/2023 and delivered same day to the Chairman of the commission bringing the disaster to his notice.”

The group expressed concern that with the attitude of the commission, the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari to give Nigerians the best parting gift of free, fair and credible election might be in jeopardy.

The group noted that the action of the commission if not retracted within 24 hours was a pointer that the commission has a preferred candidate for Igbo Etiti/Uzo Uwani Federal Constituency, saying that portends danger in the electoral system.

The group therefore condemned the alleged biased and compromised position of INEC in the case and pleaded that no one should instigate any crisis as the country approaches the 25th February, 2023 election.

It advocated that all candidates be given a free and equal opportunity with a level playing ground and at same time allowing the citizens to elect their representatives.

“In conclusion, we are demanding the following without further delay from the commission; disengaging the services of A. S. Subair and Olaniyi Ajori of counsel immediately as they have compromised the neutrality of the commission. Reviewing the processes so far filed by the commission to conform with neutrality and fairness to all parties,” it added 

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