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•Commission decries persistent litigations by politicians

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has urged political parties to address challenges hindering their capacity and efficiency.

Chairman of INEC Prof. Mahmood Yakubu said this yesterday at the opening of a two-day capacity workshop for legal advisers, organising secretaries and treasurers of political parties in Abuja.

Yakubu identified the lack of or limited internal democracy in terms of electing parties’ executives, selecting candidates, lack of transparency in funding and expenditures and campaign expenses as some of the issues affecting democracy in the country.

The INEC boss, who was represented by INEC National Commissioner and Chairman Elections and Party Monitoring Committee Prof. Antonia Simbine, said: “Part of it is insufficient inclusivity in terms of absence of deliberate policies to promote participation of key social groups, including women, youths and people living with disabilities.

“Lack of transparency in the funding and expenditures of political parties and campaign expenses, absence of formal internal mechanisms for mediation and dispute resolution are also involved.

“It includes limited and deliberate compliance with relevant provision of party constitutions, the Electoral Act and other regulations guiding political party activities.

Yakubu expressed concern over volume of subsisting court cases initiated by political parties.

He, however, said the commission was determined to enter into talks with political parties on how to mitigate litigation.

He said: “There are so many court cases, even on matters settled by the Supreme Court. The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is very clear.

“Once there is a pronouncement by the Supreme Court, all citizens are duty bound to obey the judgment until there is another law superseding that by the National Assembly, the Executive or reconsideration by the Supreme Court.

“But there are matters settled by the Supreme Court that are still subjects of litigation.

“For instance, the famous Labour Party versus INEC case 2009 says that once an election is nullified on account of candidate’s disqualification, the disqualified candidate cannot participate in the general election.

“It adds that the party that fielded a disqualified candidate has also lost its right to field a candidate in the election.’’

Yakubu, therefore, said the workshop, which he said was the second phase, was organised to address challenges in the management of political parties’ capacity for compliance with relevant laws and regulation guiding their operations.

He said it was to promote understanding and compliance of parties with campaign finance rules and regulation as well as the necessary skills for effective management of party’s activities.

He urged the national officers of political parties to be committed at implementing the lessons of the workshop in running the affairs of their parties to strengthen the country’s democracy.

Country Director, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Nigeria Dr. Samuel Bwalya reassured of UNDP‘s continued support to lNEC and the Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) in further enriching the capacities of political parties.

Bwalya, represented by Dr. Kehinde Bolaji, Team Leader, Governance and Peace-building, described political parties as keystone of democratic governance.

He expressed optimism that UNDP support to IPAC and political parties with real links to the grassroots would contribute to promoting a culture of openness.

Bwalya said this would also enrich the quality of policies and programmes capable of promoting quality service delivery to the people.
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