Following the spate of similar and contradictory court orders surrounding party primaries, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has called on the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to intervene with its members.
Recently, there have been various court orders and counter-orders regarding the governorship primaries in both the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State.
INEC said the multiplicity of ex-parte orders only put it in an awkward and impossible situation.
One of the most controversial involved a PDP aspirant, Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, who asked the federal high court in Port-Harcourt to bar the Edo Governor Godwin Obaseki from contesting in the PDP primary. Mr Ogbeide-Ihama and the party later agreed to settle out of court.
In a statement signed by the commission’s spokesperson, Festus Okoye, on Thursday, INEC urged the NBA to impress on senior members of the bar to put the country’s interest and that of the judiciary above every other interest.
The statement read:
The commission is worried about the spate and rapidity of conflicting court orders mostly obtained ex-parte involving substantially the same parties, on the same or similar grounds and from courts of coordinate jurisdiction on issues and challenges around the administration of political parties and conduct of party primaries.
Some of the orders were obtained from courts completely removed from the geographical area where the course of action arose.
The commission is committed to obeying all court orders, but the speed, frequency and conflicting nature of the lrders leave it in an awkward and impossible position.
We urge the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to impress on senior members of the Bar to put the country’s interest and the judiciary above every other interest and not allow personal considerations to outweigh their commitment to the profession, the rule of law and due process. It is in the best interest of the Bar and the Bench not to do anything that would bring them into disrepute.
These calls have become necessary to draw attention to the uncertainties and threats posed by conflicting orders on not only preparations for elections and but also to the growth and development of our democracy.