‘Supreme Court Verdict On Rivers, Others May Encourage Rigging’ | Independent Newspapers Limited
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‘Supreme Court Verdict On Rivers, Others May Encourage Rigging’

Posted: Feb 29, 2016 at 5:50 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Ejikeme Omenazu, Lagos

Mr. Nnaemeka Iheonu, a member of the Lagos Court of Arbitration and the International Bar Association (IBA), has called for an immediate amendment of the Electoral Act to institutionalise the use of card readers for the authentication and validation of elections.

He averred that, if an amendment is not done soon, the card readers, which many beleive helped to check rigging in the 2015 elections, would be dumped and Nigeria :would go back to the stone age” and “encourage high-scale rigging.”

Iheonu, who spoke to Independent in Lagos at the weekend, was reacting to the recent Supreme Court rulings on some governorship election appeals.

He said, with the introduction of the card readers, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the National Assembly should have amended the Electoral Act before the 2015 general elections to override the use of the conventional register.

While describing the recent Supreme Court verdict overruling judgments of the Court of Appeal on some governorship election matters as cause for concern, Iheonu noted that initially the Appeal Court was the court of final arbitration for such issues, but this position was recently amended, thereby giving the Supreme Court the added responsibility, which affected some of the judgments on gubernatorial elections.

The Supreme Court recently passed some rulings overturning the verdicts of the governorship election tribunals and the Court of Appeal on the Abia, Akwa Ibom and Rivers states governorship elections.

While both the election tribunals nullified the elections in the three states due to evidence of violence, rigging and snatching of ballot boxes, the Supreme Court justices overturned the rulings of the lower courts and upheld the elections of the state governors.

By the Supreme Court rulings, Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom and Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, were affirmed to be the elected governors on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), although many believe the rulings were biased.

Iheonu stressed that in a particular Supreme Court ruling, which was on the use of card readers, the Justices said that even though card readers were used, the manual register was still the authentic mode of validating elections.

He said: “I feel that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in collaboration with the National Assembly, should have amended the Electoral Act so that the card readers would override the manual register for the purpose of validating and authenticating elections.

“For now, that judgment has made nonsense of the use of card readers until there is an amendment. The National Assembly should urgently amend the Electoral Act to that effect.

“If this is not done, the card readers will be abandoned and we will go back to the Stone Age. It amounts to taking many steps backwards technologically. This will encourage high-scale rigging, which we have been battling for years.”