Many Election Winners Will Return INEC Certificates – Lawyer

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Festus Ogun, a human rights activist, anticipated that many Certificates of Return granted in Nigeria following the elections on February 25 and March 18 would be returned.

Despite receiving billions of naira for preparation, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been accused of delivering contentious behavior.

The Bimodal Voter Accreditation System’s (BVAS) breakdown and the umpire’s tardy updating of the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV) are examples of his “sins”.

The “failure on the part of INEC to conduct a free, fair, transparent and credible” election, according to Ogun, has resulted in hundreds of cases throughout the nation.

The lawyer, however, expressed confidence about the shocker that awaits a number of winners that will be sworn in on May 29 and in June (federal and state lawmakers).

“I am involved in quite a number of election cases where I, alongside others, represent both petitioners and respondents.

“This gives me a broad view that even the supposed winners acknowledge that the electioneering process was flawed. Worryingly, some of INEC officials, including RECs and returning officers, were not neutral.

“Lots of the Certificate of Return issued by INEC will be returned. I know, as a matter of fact, that there will be review of some of the outcomes,” he said.

On how to avoid a repeat of the irregularities witnessed during the elections, the Principal Partner of Festus Ogun Legal demands a system that makes the electoral body “truly independent”.

“This starts from the appointment of INEC leadership; the mode of
appointment needs to be reviewed.

The Adamawa experience shows clearly that some INEC officials are not neutral.

“These characters, with respect, are a misfit and a product of a system that allows rogue politicians to appoint their cronies into INEC key decision- making positions”, Ogun added.

Section 132 (7) & (8.) of the Electoral Act, 2022 allows for petitions to be filed within 21 days after the declaration of results, while the respondents have 21 days to respond.

The judges at the tribunals have 180 days to deliver judgment, and taking into account the April 15 supplementary elections, verdicts are expected between May and October 2023.

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