Legal Effect Of INEC’s Refusal To Monitor Party Primary

legal effect of INEC's refusal to monitor party primary

What Is The Legal Effect Of Inec’s Refusal To Monitor Party Primary After Being Notified By Political Party? 

By Manfred Ekpe, Esq. 

 

Section 84(1) of the Electoral Act 2022 (Hereinafter referred to as THE ACT) makes it mandatory for political parties to notify the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of their intention to conduct primaries. INEC shall hereinafter variously called as such or THE COMMISSION. 

Section 84(13) of the same Act says THAT FAILURE TO NOTIFY INEC OF INTENTION TO CONDUCT PRIMARIES BY POLITICAL PARTIES SHALL RENDER THE PRIMARIES NULL AND VOID.

However, the Act is silent about where the political party had duly notified INEC but the commission fails to monitor the primary in issue,  as in the case of the fresh primary ordered by the All Progressives Congress APC for Akwa Ibom Northwest Senatorial District in which the immediate past Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio won.

In such a situation where INEC fails in its legal duty,  the equitable principle of Ubi jus ibi remedium comes in aid of the party who suffers a wrong from the Commission’s  refusal to monitor the primary after due notification. It is settled principle of law that no person shall suffer a legal wrong without a remedy, which is expressed in the equitable locution, Ubi Jus Ibi Remedium. The court would take judicial notice of the Nigerian institutional corruption to the fact that officers of the Commission could be bribed or influenced or became biased thereby  ignoring notice by a political party of intention to conduct primary so as to deny that party of fielding a candidate for general election. The court is therefore entitled to do substantial justice to the political party by applying the equity principle of Ubi jus ibi remedium. 

While I am not inclined to defend the position of Senator Ahmed Lawan, the senate president, whose name was forwarded to INEC by APC without having stood for primary in what appears to be an  uncommon impunity and illegality, that of Akpabio is different on its own merit. 

In that of Akpabio, there was a primary. INEC was duly notified but it refused, ignored, neglected and failed to monitor the fresh primary for Akwa Ibom Northwest Senatorial District scheduled for 9th June 2022, thus breaching its statutory duty under sections 82 and 84(1) of the Act.

The APC chairman in Akwa Ibom State, Mr.  Stephen Leo Ntukekpo had earlier before the date of the said fresh primary,  petitioned to the national chairman of the Commission against the partial and  illegal acts of Mr. Mike Igini, the Akwa Ibom Resident Electoral Commissioner’sr (REC’s)  refusal to honour any correspondence from him in contempt of a valid court judgment/order. INEC responded by writing to Mike Igini to honour Ntukekpo’s executive/ correspondences, which Mike Igini bluntly refused, which refusal  included failure to monitor the June 9th 2022 fresh primary of APC for Akwa Ibom Northwest Senatorial District in which Akpabio emerged winner. This is the same primary that the Commission claims it did not monitor and therefore cannot accept Senator Akpabio’s name as a candidate.

Mike Igini is an officer of INEC and by the legal doctrine of  vicarious liability, INEC is responsible for all official acts and omissions of Mike Igini. Refusal to monitor the 9 June 2022 fresh primary in Akwa Ibom Northwest senatorial district by the Akwa Ibom State INEC office under Mike Igini, is therefore inputted on INEC by law. The Commission cannot act on that wrongful act  of their officer to successfully claim they did not monitor the said fresh primary for Akwa Ibom Northwest senatorial district, and therefore activate sections 82(5) and 84(13) of the Act against the party. The law does not allow you to deliberately frustrate and  render another person helpless in compliance with the law, then you turn around to accuse the person of having not complied with the law, and seek to benefit from your illegal act in that regard. The legal locution  is “Fraus omnia corrumpit.” 

For avoidance of doubt, APC had complied with its legal duty by notifying the Commission of intention to conduct its fresh primary for Ikot Ekpene senatorial district. But INEC failed in its legal duty to monitor the said fresh  primary. APC cannot then be held liable for the Commission’s legal wrong. APC having fulfilled its own legal obligation thus inuring with clean hands, is therefore entitled to an equitable remedy in Ubi jus ibi remedium. And I so submit.

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