The rancorous primary elections conducted by political parties, ahead of the forthcoming general elections, generated 639 court cases in which the Independent National Electoral Commission was joined as a defendant.
An insider in the commission said on Sunday that the pending cases were among the major challenges facing the electoral body in its preparation for the general elections.
The source said the commission had so far received about 584 requests for certified original copies of documents from parties in the suits to enable them to pursue their cases.
“One of the big challenges facing us as a commission, as we prepare for the general elections, is the number of court cases that we are joined. From Ogun to Zamfara and Rivers states, the situation is the same,” the source said.
He noted that the issues in Rivers and Zamfara states were of concern to INEC because the courts had ruled that the logos of the All Progressives Congress should not appear on ballot papers in those states.
He expressed the fear that it might become an issue if the Supreme Court rules, close to the elections, after ballots papers have been produced, that the party should be included.
The source also disclosed that in response to concerns expressed by the general public, the commission had resolved to open up its Election Situation Room for members of civil society organisations.
He said, “The commission has decided to open up its Situation Room to enable members of civil society organisations to see what we are doing there.
“We have nothing to hide. We have granted visitation right to the CSOs.
“They may not sit all through, but they can be coming in at will to observe what is going on in the room.”
The source also hinted that any outbreak of violence during the general elections might lead to inconclusive elections in affected constituencies.
To avoid this, he explained that the commission was soliciting the support of the Acting Inspector-General of Police, Muhammed Adamu.
He said that one of the steps being taken was to ensure that policemen attached to polling booths across the country were identified by their names and telephone numbers.
He also noted that vote-buying which had given ICE cause for concern, might “go digital and more scientific”, ahead of the elections.
He said the commission was already in possession of information about some individuals going about collecting voter cards and compiling other people’s Voter Identification Numbers.
The source allayed fears that card readers could malfunction during the elections.
He said the commission had procured batteries with a longer lifespan for the card readers, apart from upgrading their memories.
The batteries, he said, had already been shipped into the country.
He added that the management of the National Collation Centre would be transparent in order to allay the fears of those who were apprehensive that one of the National Commissioners, Amina Zakari, would manipulate the process.
He said that while Zakari would be in charge of the management of the venue for the collation, there would be a collation secretariat, responsible for collating results.
“The process is going to be open. Moving people based on mere allegation is not good for the system,” he said.
The source added that the commission would not like to return to the style of separate accreditation and voting, despite the position held by some parties on the matter.
He said, “After the 2015 elections, international observers advised the commission against seperate accreditation and voting. CSOs and the media made a similar suggestion.”