With 44 days to the inauguration of newly elected leaders at the federal and state levels on May 29, 557 aggrieved candidates in the 2019 general elections have joined the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the cases they filed before the election petitions tribunals across the country.
The highest number of petitions of 235 came from candidates who vied for offices in the state legislatures followed by the House of Representatives’ 202 cases, Senate (88), governorship (29), and the presidential election (three).
A document obtained by LEADERSHIP, No TheNigerialawyer from INEC showed that as of April 8, 2019, a total of 557 cases were filed in various tribunals with the commission joined as respondent.
A breakdown of the petitions at the state levels showed that Sokoto State has the highest figure of 49, followed by Anambra, Benue, Cross River and Zamfara States with 35 cases each. The next on the chart are Kano 27, Ogun 26, Nasarawa 26, Plateau 24, Bauchi 23, Abia 21, Delta, Imo and Taraba States with 19 each, and Lagos State 16.
Katsina State has the least petitions of two while no case was filed before the tribunal in Jigawa State.
In the presidential election, three court cases were filed against the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The breakdown of the cases as instituted against INEC and other candidates in Abia showed that there are seven for the state assembly, seven for House of Representatives, Senate (three) and governorship (four).
In Adamawa State where 12 petitions were filed, three are for the state House of Assembly, seven for the Lower House of the National Assembly, Senate (two) and none yet against the governorship.
Akwa Ibom State has 12 court cases, one in the House of Assembly, House of Representatives (eight), two for Senate and one against the governorship polls.
A breakdown of the 35 cases in Anambra State revealed that 19 candidates are contesting their defeat in the state assembly polls, House of Representatives (eight), Senate (eight) and governorship none.
In Bauchi State, the House of Assembly tops with nine cases followed by House of Representatives with seven petitions, Senate (seven), and none yet against the governorship race.
There are 10 court cases in Bayelsa State with the House of Assembly having only one petition, House of Representatives (six), and Senate (three). The gubernatorial election will hold on November 2, 2019.
The 21 petitions in Benue State are House of Assembly (eight), House of Representatives (nine), Senate (four), and governorship none yet.
In Borno State, there are seven petitions, with three against the House of Assembly elections, House of Representatives (two), Senate (two), governorship none.
The litigations from Cross River State are 25 – House of Assembly, 10, House of Representatives 10, Senate five, and governorship none.
Delta State has 19 court cases: House of Assembly five, House of Representatives nine, Senate four, and governorship one. Ebonyi State has six cases: House of Representatives three, Senate one, and governorship two.
In Edo State, nine cases have been filed: House of Assembly three, House of Representatives four, and Senate two. The governorship election will hold in 2020.
Ekiti State has five court cases: House of Representatives four, and Senate one. There was no governorship election in the state. The petitions from Enugu State were 12 with the House of Assembly accounting for two, House of Representatives seven, Senate three, and none against the governorship poll.
The FCT has a total of three cases: Senate one and area councils two. Gombe State has seven petitions with only one for House of Assembly, House of Representatives two, Senate one, and governorship four.
The breakdown for Imo State is House of Assembly one, House of Representatives 10, Senate nil, governorship two. Only 12 cases were filed in Kaduna State: House of Assembly two, House of Representatives six, Senate four, and governorship none.
The breakdown of the petitions in Kano State are House of Assembly 16, House of Representatives 11, Senate nil, governorship being awaited. Katsina State has only two petitions: House of Assembly one, House of Representatives nil, Senate nil, and governorship one.
Three cases were filed in Kebbi State with the House of Assembly having two, House of Representatives and governorship one.
Kogi State has 13 court cases: House of Assembly one, House of Representatives nine, and Senate three. The governorship election will hold on November 2 this year. Kwara State has three court cases with the House of Assembly accounting for one, and governorship two.
For Lagos State, there is one House of Assembly case, House of Representatives 11, Senate two, and governorship two. The breakdown for Nasarawa State is House of Assembly, 10, House of Representatives six, Senate six, and governorship four.
From Niger State came five petitions with the House of Assembly leading with three and Senate two. There is none yet for governorship as at the time of this report. Ogun State has 19 House of Assembly petitions, House of Representatives three, Senate three and governorship two.
INEC will defend itself against four cases in Ondo State: House of Assembly one, House of Representatives two, Senate one. In Osun State where there was no governorship election, there are five cases with the House of Assembly accounting for three and House of Representatives two.
The breakdown for Oyo State is House of Assembly, 15, House of Representatives 12, Senate four, and governorship one. In Plateau State, the House of Assembly led with 13, House of Representatives eight, Senate three, and governorship none yet.
Rivers State has only four cases: House of Representatives three, Senate one, and governorship none yet. The breakdown for Sokoto State’s 49 court cases is House of Assembly, 36, House of Representatives 10, Senate three, and governorship none yet.
In Taraba State, there are 19 petitions: House of Assembly 11, House of Representatives five, Senate two, and governorship one. The figure for Yobe State is three with two for House of Representatives and Senate one. There is none for governorship at the moment.
The litigations for Zamfara State are House of Assembly, 21, House of Representatives eight, Senate four, and governorship two.
Meanwhile, Ou reporter has gathered that INEC voted the sum of N1.9billion for legal fees and payment of external solicitors to handle the 557 cases which it has been joined.
Even though a committee has been set up by the commission to source for both internal and external lawyers to represent it at the tribunals, the sum of N1.796 billion is for professional fees and expenses for external solicitors, and honorarium for the legal officers.
The 2019 INEC Election Project Plan showed that the amount for governorship petition was pegged at N4.5million X 20; senatorial petitions, N3million X 45; House of Representatives N2.7million X105; state House of Assembly, N1.350million X 244 while honorarium for in-house lawyers is seven per cent of the fees payable to external solicitors.”
About N6 million is budgeted for pre-election cases. About N26.5 million will be spent on monitoring the hearing of election petitions and appeals across the 36 states of the federation and the FCT while N99.5 million is voted for the compilation and production of the updated electoral legal framework including the code of conduct for external lawyers and staff. A separate N25 million is set aside for the prosecution of electoral offenders.
Speaking to LEADERSHIP, INEC’s director, Information, Gender and Voter Education, Barr. Oluwole Osaze Uzzi, said that the commission has set up a legal team to represent it in court.
“The committee is made up of both internal and external lawyers that are representing the commission in the court cases. I don’t know their numbers now but we will make it available once all processes have been completed,” Uzzi said.
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