Tuesday, June 1, 2004 

INEC defies courts on Borno senatorial election

From Isa Umar Gusau, in Maiduguri

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has yet to comply with the decision of the Court of Appeal Jos and the Supreme Court to conduct fresh elections for Borno North Senatorial district following a legal tussle between Mohammed Sanusi Daggash and Hajiya Fati Ibrahim Bulama, both of whom contested the elections for the seat on the platform of the PDP and ANP repeatedly.

According to a letter addressed to the INEC National headquarters Abuja by a legal firm and another by the Borno North local government council chairmen forum addressed to President Obasanjo, the senatorial seat has been vacant despite the ruling of the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court both of which directed INEC to conduct fresh elections.

The letter to INEC by the legal firm, Peter Adebayo Bello and Company reads in part; "We have waited patiently for your commission to announce the date for the fresh election in obedience to the positive order of a superior court of record in Nigeria, but you have failed, refused and/or neglected to comply with the said order."

Adding, that the solicitors said that the action of the commission was contrary to the provision of section 246 (3) of the constitution which states that "the decision of the Court of Appeal in respect of appeals arising from election petitions shall be final" and section 287 (2) of which states that "the decisions of the Court of Appeal shall be enforced in any part of the federal by all authorities and persons and by courts with subordinate jurisdiction to that of the Court of Appeal.

Consequently, the lawyers gave seven days ultimatum to the INEC, to conduct the elections or face contempt proceedings in line with constitutional provisions in the country.

And in the other letter, the members of the chairmen forum told President Obasanjo that following the INEC non-compliance with the court rulings, the people of their senatorial district have not been represented in the state chamber of the National Assembly which undermines Nigeriaís democratic provisions and values.

The chairmen described the action of INEC on the matter as disheartening despite the commissionís knowledge of the relevance of the court judgment especially the Supreme Court, in a democratic dispensation when the rule of law prevails.