Garlands For A Roguish Umpire

The Nigerian Electoral Act 2010 as amended presumes that results declared by INEC are deemed to be correct until the contrary is proved. This seeming position of presumed unassailability has received tremendous judicial approval. In our context, the race is to be announced by INEC by whatever means possible. Once that is the case, a petitioner who alleges wrongdoing on the part of INEC must PROVE that INEC was indeed wrong.

That is the position of presumed righteousness that INEC enjoys and this status has oftentimes been used as an electoral murder weapon rather than a shield of fairness. Added to this is the fact that INEC must defend the outcome of every election it conducts no matter how questionable. INEC is a statutory or necessary respondent in every election petition. It must side with its declared winner or favoured candidate. They rise and fall together. They enjoy unionized relationship where one looks out for the interest of the other.

Many INEC officials carry themselves with airs of sanctimony. These morally frail mortals are deified by Law ‘as angels in human form’. One loquacious one amongst the pack referred to himself as “(S)on of man”; apparently drawing parallels with Jesus Christ! But before the electoral bell rang, he betrayed his employers many times over. He claimed he knew where the now rested “INEC central server” was located. He sided with the Petitioners in the last Presidential elections for inexplicable reasons, yet till date he sits pretty at his duty post calling the bluff of who cares.

Even after the Court of Appeal sitting in Calabar descended heavily on the Electoral body in Akwa Ibom State for meddlesomeness and acting outside of the Law in the case of Senator Godswill Akpabio v. Senator Chris Ekpenyong where Mr. Igini ordered for cancellation of already collated votes and assumed position of Returning Officer by announcing results outside of the Senatorial District and in Uyo, A Press Release issued at the behest of Mr. Igini had the temerity to argue that the decision of the Court of Appeal accords with INEC nay Igini’s position that there was violence and irregularities in Essien Udim Local Government Area. That’s how brazen they come!

Every decision of Court that validates the atrocious conduct of electoral officers amounts to a pat on the back and a garland for successfully executed electoral fraud. So far, that is what the judgments of the Tribunal and court of Appeal in the case of Nsima Ekere and Governor Udom Emmanuel seem to represent. A medal of dishonor for Mr. Igini for a successful electoral heist. The Court of Appeal judgment which found near mathematical concurrence with that of the Tribunal were mere slaughter slabs of technicality where justice was butchered.

Is justice rooted in technicality? Who goes to Court in search of justice and is turned back with the brandishing of a plaque of technicality and a punitive fine in the package? What is the correct mode of certification of public documents as provided for in section 104 of the Evidence Act that the courts so heavily rely on yet cannot particularize?

INEC’s independence must be rooted in its impartiality and fairness and for such to make any meaningful impact, the Ayoka Adebayos, Iginis, Iwus Ikoiwaks and others in that ignominious league must be shown the way out.