We recorded 1,000 pre-election litigations on 2023 poll – INEC

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it was faced with more than 1,000 pre-election litigations in the build-up to the 2023 general election.

INEC Director, Legal Drafting and Clearance, Mrs Oluwatoyin Babalola, said this in a presentation at a two-day capacity workshop for journalists in Akwanga, Nasarawa State.

The presentation was titled “Effects of Litigation on INEC’s Preparations for Kogi, Imo, And Bayelsa Governorship Election.”

Babalola said the pre-election litigations were borne out of primaries conducted by political parties, substitution of candidates and failure of parties to adhere to their constitution and timetable for the conduct of the election.

Pre-election litigation are matters in which the cause of action arose before the conduct of election proper, as provided for in Section 285(14) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

She said most of the cases were borne out of lack of internal party democracy where political parties failed to adhere to their constitutions and guidelines.

Babalola said the unique nature of pre-election matters could not be overlooked as judgments in that regard were capable of negatively impacting planning, logistics, funding and certainty of participants in the conduct of the election.

She said those judgments were sometimes delivered on the eve of the election, thereby prohibiting INEC from conducting elections for certain positions and replacing candidates after the printing of ballot papers, among others.

“Beyond the impact of pre-election matters on preparation for election, the commission is sometimes ordered to withdraw the certificate of return issued to a candidate who emerged winner and issue a fresh certificate of return to a judgment creditor.

“After the 2019 general elections, the commission was ordered to issue 94 certificates of return in pre-election matters,” she said.

Babalola added that INEC had to withdraw seven Certificates of Return earlier issued and reissue the same pursuant to court orders in the 2023 general election.