High cost of litigation associated with the electoral petition at the tribunal has become an issue of serious concern to the Independent National Electoral Commission
Patrick Osadebamwen, Abuja High cost of litigation associated with the electoral petition at the tribunal has become an issue of serious concern to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) especially in the face of dwindling national earnings. The Commission said the cost of legal representation at various election tribunals in the country was indeed disturbing.
Consequently, a 13-man committee on the management of the election petitions at the tribunal and mitigate the cost with a view to save the commission of its scarce resources was inaugurated by the Acting Chairman of INEC, Hajia Amina Bala Zakari and given two months to conclude it’s tasks. She observed that the numerous petitions at the election tribunals where the commission was joined “as a respondent, subpoenaed to testify (and) at the same time ensuring the provision of materials to these tribunals at enormous cost” is taking a toll on the management and staff of the INEC.
Zakari noted that the commission, which is expected to defend its role in the conduct of the elections, had to deploy its in-house and external solicitors to appear for and on behalf of the commission. “This informed our desire to ensure better management of the various election petitions involving the commission, thus the setting up of this commission,” she said.
She enjoined the committee not to spare any means necessary in its assignment to review and resolve this challenge for the commission as it engages further in future elections. “This committee is also expected to study the issues surrounding the tribunals, especially as it relates to utilisation of human and material resources, the role of INEC staff, the roles of our external solicitors etc, and advice on the best manner to manage the issues, and come up with recommendations.
“The report and recommendations of the committee would be further subjected to wider circulation to our various stakeholders in the judiciary, CSO to fine tune and incorporate the recommendations in the commission’s processes. The recommendation may also be a basis for further review of the Electoral laws by the NASS (National Assembly).
“As veterans and professionals, I’m sure you will bring your experience to bear on this important assignment, cognizant of the fact that the desire of the commission is to significantly factor into every critical phase of the cycle, the needed improvement in the quality of the process, so as to meet the expectations of Nigerians,” Mrs. Zakari added. Kassim Gaidam, a former INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), is the chairman of the committee and was guided by an eight terms of reference. The committee is expected to “assess the cost of managing election petitions; in particular, cost of legal representation, cost of production of materials inspection and other logistics, attendance of witnesses and respondents to subpoenas etc;”Examine the role of the legal consortium retained by the commission.
-Patrick Osadebamwen, Abuja