2019 elections: Political parties drag INEC to court over guidelines

Sixty-one political parties have resolved to drag the Independent National Electoral Commission to court over the draft guidelines for the 2019 general election.

The parties, which form the Inter-Party Advisory Committee, had last week rejected the election guidelines billed to be formally presented on Monday.

But IPAC’s spokesman, Imo Ugochinyere, in a statement issued on Sunday said a suit would be filed on Monday to coincide with INEC’s presentation of the document.

Ugochinyere, who is the National Chairman of the Action Peoples Party, said the decision to drag INEC to court was taken to stop the electoral body from presenting the document, which he described as controversial.

He added that the suit was also meant to quash some sections of the draft guideline, which he claimed were in conflict with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution.

He claimed that some “obnoxious provisions” were inserted into the guideline and said that they would lead to massive rigging of the 2019 elections.

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“The suit, which will be filed tomorrow (Monday) at the Federal High court by 10am, has four national chairmen of four parties suing on behalf of the rest of the 61 political parties who are against the guideline,” he said.

Ugochinyere added, “The plaintiffs (Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere of APP, Dr Sam Eke of GPN PARTY, Nsehe Nseobong of RP and Kenneth Udeze of AA) will be asking for an ex-parte application for an injunction to restrain the INEC chairman from going ahead with the Monday planned release of the controversial guideline, which majority of the nation’s political parties (over 61) have rejected over non-consultation, obnoxious clauses and the violation of the Constitution.

“The chairmen of the political parties still insist that the only way to have free and fair elections is for those obnoxious clauses contained in the guideline, which does not promote free and fair elections, to be expunged and that the INEC chairmen summon an emergency meeting with political parties chairmen to finally address the grey areas contained in the guidelines to avoid the 2019 election running into a hitch and credibility crisis even before the day of election.

“The parties still insist that the chairman of INEC retains the 2011 and 2015 separate accreditation and separate voting system, which Nigerian voters are familiar with and avoid creating confusion and a loophole for massive tampering of results with the continuous/same time accreditation and voting.

“INEC recently tried the method in a few re-runs, but that is not enough to extend such voting method to all parts of the country with only a few weeks to the election.

“The demand of party chairmen is for INEC to continue the separate accreditation and separate voting system and ensure that at the end of accreditation across the country on election day, that the INEC polling unit staff should first announce the total polling unit accredited figures and sign and issue out to party agents at the polling unit before the commencement of voting, thereby protecting the sanctity of the votes by securing the accreditation figures.

“That will make post-election and voting manipulation difficult because the accreditation figures are already out and riggers cannot tamper with the election outcome or increase the votes again.”

The contentious issues in the guideline, according to Ugochinyere, include the flawed accreditation procedure, which he claimed allowed fake voters whose names were not on the voters register, including people with fake PVC or voters not properly accredited, to vote.

He added, “The parties’ chairmen are currently mobilising more party leaders to move against the INEC chairman in the event that he goes ahead to issue out the guideline without the input of the political parties and without removing the obnoxious clauses that will ruin a free and fair election.

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“The options on the table of the chairmen of the political parties will not stop with tomorrow’s (Monday’s) court action, but it will include a vote-of-no confidence on the INEC chairman and the commission, including a call to step down and a persona non grata declaration and mass protest to alert Nigerians that the 2019 election process has been manipulated.”

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