Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, the Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Wednesday decried the cost of conducting re-run elections in the country.
Yakubu made this known at a National Conference for Justices of the Court of Appeal and Election Petition Tribunal Judges with the theme “2015 Election Petition Tribunals and Appeals” in Abuja.
He said it was more challenging to manage re-run elections arising from candidates’ disqualification.
According to him, while it is appreciated that the courts treat each case on its merits, certain trends point to conflicting judgments on similar cases by different Judicial Division of the Court of Appeal.
He said there were instances where elections were nullified and INEC was ordered to conduct a re-run simply for the sake of conducting elections in a specific polling unit.
Yakubu said after wasting time and resources, the outcome of such election did not make any material difference to the original result declared by INEC which made substantial compliance with the Electoral Act.
He cited the case of Lafia/Obi Federal Constituency in Nasarawa State, where Appeal Court ordered INEC to conduct a re-run in Angwan Doka Polling Unit 004 with just over 1,000 registered voters.
He said the candidate declared winner by INEC in the 2015 General election pooled over 74, 000 votes while the runner-up had a little over 70,000 votes.
Mahmoud said the number of registered voters in the polling unit could not have altered the result in any way and even the voters were aware of the reality.
“When INEC conducted a re-run election in that polling unit only 25 voters turned up to cast their votes and the election which has no utilitarian value cost the nation N3.2 million,” he said.
He said that 680 election cases were filed against INEC after the 2015 General elections and 580 out of these cases were dismissed by the tribunals and Court of Appeal.
Yakubu said that the commission had no judicial powers over the outcome of the elections it had conducted.
According to him, each time an appeal court determines a case, the commission is always ordered to undertake one form of consequential action.
In her speech, the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, said that the court received 749 appeals emanating from the decisions of the various election petition tribunals.
Bulkachuwa said in spite of the challenges of time, the justices of the court had managed to dispose the appeals within the stipulated period as required by law.