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It’s Inappropriate To Rate 2023 Polls By Number Of Petitions – INEC



By Sola Omoniyi, Lagos

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Thursday said it is inappropriate to rate the 2023 general polls by the number of petitions filed in courts.

INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of Information and Voter Education Committee, Sam Olumekun in a statement said the electoral body has been drawn to a report titled, ‘INEC’s credibility sinks as 94% contested posts awaits tribunals.’

He said the report suggests that the election petitions draw from the action or inaction of INEC, stressing that many litigants unfortunately file election petitions over the most improbable cases, and later withdraw them, or they are dismissed by the tribunals.

The report said in part:” Of the 1,196 petitions filed, the electoral umpire said 712 were dismissed while 179 others were withdrawn, adding that the tribunals found no merit in 891 (74.4%) petitions and affirmed the result of the elections conducted by INEC.

“The said report analysed the total number of petitions as if they were filed against the outcome of the election in 94% of all the elective positions without considering details of the cases,” the statement read.

“Multiple petitions were filed by candidates and political parties as petitioners in a single constituency. Therefore, the number of election petitions filed in respect of all elective offices will certainly outnumber the total number of constituencies/election offices.

“Many of the petitioners did not challenge the conduct of the elections by INEC but the eligibility of candidates or their nomination by political parties. Under the law, INEC has no power to screen candidates. Similarly, only the courts can disqualify candidates.

“A comparative analysis would have addressed the deliberate effort in the report to portray the 2023 general elections as regressive on account of litigation without empirical evidence.

“Over the last three electoral cycles, the number of election petitions may be rising but not the number of upturned elections.” The statement added