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Arbitrary Defections Of Politicians Must Be Regulated, Agbakoba SAN Tells INEC

Former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olisa Agbakoba, says the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) needs to act as a strong regulator of the electoral process.

Agbakoba said it is important to restate the constitutional powers of INEC as the ultimate regulator of the electoral process “because INEC appears to have forgotten the powers assigned to it in relation to the political and electoral process”.

In a statement on Thursday, he said INEC has allowed the national assembly to encroach on its powers with respect to the electronic transmission of results.

“For example, when the National Assembly voted to reject electronic transmission of election results, INEC in the course of the debate, was mostly silent and did not assert itself even when the Constitution confers on INEC the powers to “organize, undertake and supervise” elections,” the statement reads.

“The arbitrary defections of politicians from one party to another calls for strong regulatory control by INEC. The lack of internal democracy in most political parties has failed to receive robust regulatory response by INEC.

“The Nigerian political system needs INEC to act as a strong regulator. I suggest that INEC is entitled to withdraw certificates of return issued to elected office holders who defect. INEC ought not to be afraid of getting it wrong. INEC must be seen as a firm referee with clear rules and a determination to enforce those rules.

“To demonstrate this, INEC needs to clarify its position on how the 2023 elections will be conducted. INECs recent statement that elections will be conducted manually and electronically is confusing – as it allows politicians opportunity for mischief. The rules set out by INEC must be clear on how votes will be counted.

“Finally, INEC must be impartial in election petitions. It must be neutral. INEC’s proper role is to assist the courts to resolve election disputes. Unfortunately, generally, INEC has acted as defendant in election petitions. This is very wrong.

“I hope the 2023 election will enable INEC to play its proper role as a strong impartial regulator of elections.”

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