Is INEC truly Independent?

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has always been in the news most of the time for wrong reasons.

The latest being the alleged disqualification of some gubernatorial candidates and their deputies in the forthcoming governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states. While other candidates have accepted their fates and move on with their lives, the gubernatorial candidate of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, in Kogi state, Mrs Natasha Akpoti, has refused to allow INEC disqualify her because according to her, the electoral umpire has no such power. 

Why would INEC attempt to re-write the Constitution or go against the Electoral Act as amended? 

Natasha while fielding questions on a current affairs program monitored in Lagos said she would approach the court to seek redress.

According to her, during the 2019 general election, so many underage candidates were allowed because the Constitution didn’t give INEC power to disqualify any candidate. Natasha says even when they raised objections to the non submissions of the certificate by President Muhammadu Buhari, the commission said their role was to organize election and declare winner, nothing more. The deputy governor of Zamfara state, Engr Mahdi Gusau is said to be 33 years old. Natasha then wondered why INEC has to engage in double standard when it concerns SDP.

It would be recalled that INEC disqualified Natasha because SDP sponsored a 34 years old as her running mate.

Why is INEC stopping SDP in Kogi state? Speaking yesterday, INEC National Commissioner on legal matters, Mr Festus Okoye said the Commission was overwhelmed in 2019 because they have to process over 40,000 candidates. 

According to him they could not do a thorough job then because of the volume of forms they have to verify. The inference one can draw from Mr Okoye’s statement is that the INEC may actually be responsible for all the flaws and electoral manipulations during the general election. And this may be the reason why political parties always accused INEC of partisanship before, during and after every election. It is also becoming crystal clear going by Mr. Okoye’s statement that INEC has credibility issue as you cannot approbate and reprobate in an issue that’s straightforward.

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