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NJC issues policy directions on election related cases

By Azimazi Momoh Jimoh, Sodiq Omolaoye and Ameh Ochojila (Abuja)
12 May 2022   |   4:03 am
Ahead of general elections, National Judicial Council (NJC) has released the Policy Directions on Political and Election Related Cases to Heads of Courts nationwide.

Tanko Muhammad

• INEC to suspend online voter registration by three weeks
• Commission charged to cancel undemocratic congresses

Ahead of general elections, National Judicial Council (NJC) has released the Policy Directions on Political and Election Related Cases to Heads of Courts nationwide.

This came as part of efforts to prevent conflicting orders or judgments capable of disrupting the ongoing electioneering process. Sources said Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, presided over the meeting where the policy directions were formulated.

Under the new direction, Heads of Courts are to be held responsible for loopholes in their areas of jurisdiction. The policy, which was made public in Abuja, yesterday, was formulated at NJC’s 98th meeting on May 10 and 11, under the chairmanship of Muhammad.

It reads in part: “These Policy Directions shall apply to all suits filed in any court in Nigeria wherein the parties include Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), any political party or its officers, any other person, natural or legal, suing or sued for a declaration in relation to any action taken or to compel or restrain any action or omission with respect to affairs of a political party or any election into a public office.

“All Heads of Court shall assign cases or constitute panels with a view to forestalling incidences of conflicting judgments and rulings; once facts or issues have been ruled upon, no other Court or Panel of Coordinate Jurisdiction shall be assigned or entertain suits on the same subject matter and parties shall comply or proceed on appeal to the appropriate higher Court.”

THIS came as INEC disclosed plans to suspend the online Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) for three weeks. The commission said the move would allow online registrants to complete registration physically at designated centres before the exercise is suspended on June 30, 2022.

INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed this during an interactive session with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Abuja, yesterday.

Yakubu added that the CVR suspension slated to begin May 30 would enable clean up registration data, printing of Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) and compilation of register ahead of the general election.

He disclosed that the commission would finalise regulations and guidelines for implementation of the new Electoral Act 2022, which would guide the conduct of forthcoming Ekiti and Osun governorship elections as well as the 2023 polls, next week.

ALSO, the spate of crises in political parties, on account of abuses of democratic processes, came to the fore, yesterday, as a don in the University of Abuja, Prof. Sam Amadi, urged INEC to cancel all undemocratic congresses conducted by All Progressives Congress (PDP) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), within the last four weeks.

This was contained in a letter he wrote to the election management body. Amadi, an Associate Professor of Law, cautioned INEC against reneging on its constitutional duties enshrined in extant laws governing the regulation of political parties’ primaries in Nigeria.

He said: “The apparent violation of some of the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 by political parties, compels the commission to intervene to protect the core principles of electoral democracy as enshrined in the constitution and the new electoral law.”

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