A human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, on Sunday warned that the outcome of the forthcoming governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states stood the risk of being invalidated by the court, if the Independent National Electoral Commission is not urgently constituted according to the law.
INEC has already fixed November 21 for the election in Kogi State and December 5 for that of Bayelsa State.
Falana argued that the INEC currently constituted by the Acting Chairman, Hajia Amina Zakari, and one other national commissioner instead of the 13 prescribed by the Constitution lacked the powers to conduct future elections in the country.
He recalled that even when the commission was constituted by four members in 2010, Justice Mohammed Liman, then of the Federal High Court in Lagos, in suit No. FHC/CS/36/09, ruled that the INEC needed at least five members to form a quorum that could take a valid decision on behalf of the commission.
He said the judgment of the Federal High Court was binding on the Federal Government and thus urged President Muhammadu Buhari to fill the existing vacancies in INEC to avert a situation that will put the forthcoming governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states at the risk of being nullified.
He said, “As the counsel for the plaintiff in the aforementioned case, I can say without any fear of contradiction that the said decision of the Federal High Court was not challenged at the Court of Appeal by the Federal Government.
“In fact, instead of rushing to the Court of Appeal in the circumstance, the Federal Government filled the vacancies in the INEC by appointing 11 national commissioners.
“The five-year term of office of the national commissioners of INEC has since expired by effluxion of time. In the same vein, the term of office of over 20 Resident Electoral Commissioners has since expired.’’