Will Court Stop INEC During Election Process? INEC Challenges Order On Bauchi Collation

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said it had challenged the ruling of a Federal High Court in Abuja stopping the collation of the governorship poll results in the Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area of Bauchi State.

The INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, disclosed this in an interview with The Punch on Tuesday.

The Federal High Court presided over by Justice Inyang Ekwo had in its ruling on an ex parte application filed by the All Progressives Congress governorship candidate and Bauchi State Governor, Mohammed Abubakar, halted the collation of results of the election in Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area of the state.

Okoye said that INEC had suspended the collation of results of the March 9 governorship election in the local government area. He said the commission would obey the court order, adding that the electoral body had filed a motion to challenge the ruling.

He said, “It is not a question of whether the order can fly. We have made it very clear that INEC is a constitutional commission and obeys orders from a properly constituted court of law. INEC was served with the ex parte application and we were ordered to show cause why the ex parte application should not be granted.

“The commission was represented by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria. We are aware of the court order and since it is a court order from a properly constituted court of law and we were represented in court, we are going to obey the court and then seek for ways of vacating the court order because we had already filed a motion stating that the court doesn’t have jurisdiction to entertain the matter.

“But since the court has already given an order, we are under a constitutional obligation and duty to obey the court order. So, based on that, the collation of results for the governorship election relating to Tafawa Balewa LGA of Bauchi State has been suspended.

“But the commission will go ahead and complete the collation of the state constituency election and make a declaration in relation to the state assembly election because that was not part of the issues before the Federal High Court but in relation to the collation of results for the Bauchi governorship election relating to the Tafawa Balewa LGA.

“We have suspended the collation, pending the final determination of the issues that the governor took to the Federal High Court in Abuja. For now, this is where we stand in relation to the issues.

“There is already a motion before the Federal High Court to the effect that the court which granted this order does not have jurisdiction to entertain the matter. So, that ex parte motion has not been taken as at now. So, when the motion is taken, we will know the next step to take."

Elections will take place in Adamawa, Benue, Sokoto, Benue 
Okoye, however, explained that the supplementary elections in other affected states would hold as scheduled for Saturday.

He said, “The supplementary elections will take place in all the other areas where we said they would take place, except Tafawa Balewa LGA in Bauchi State. We are not going to do anything in relation to Tafawa Balewa LGA until the matter in court is determined. But the supplementary elections will go on in all other areas where we had said supplementary elections will take place.”

Supplementary elections had been fixed for March 23 in Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Kano, Plateau and Sokoto states where INEC had declared the governorship elections held on February 9 inconclusive.

Earlier in Bauchi State on Tuesday, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Ibrahim Abdullahi, at a press conference, said, “The court has restrained the Independent National Electoral Commission from continuing with the collation and subsequent announcement of the results of Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area as it affects the governorship election.

He said the commission had corrected the result of Ningi Local Government Area from 25, 330 to the 2,533 as directed by the INEC headquarters.

Abdullahi said, “Tomorrow (Wednesday), we are going to hear the substantive case. Tomorrow will determine our next move.”

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