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Many election winners will return INEC certificates – Lawyer

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A legal practitioner has advised successful candidates in the 2023 general elections not to get too comfortable.

The human rights activist, Festus Ogun, told Daily Post his prediction that has many Certificates of Return issued after the February 25 and March 18 polls in Nigeria would be handed back.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been accused of delivering controversial conduct despite receiving billions of naira for preparation.

The umpire’s “sins” include the malfunction of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and the failure to promptly update the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV).

Ogun noted that the “failure on the part of INEC to conduct a free, fair, transparent and credible” exercise has brought about hundreds of cases across the country.

The lawyer, however, expressed confidence about the shocker that awaits a number of winners that will be sworn in on May 29 and in June (federal and state lawmakers).

“I am involved in quite a number of election cases where I, alongside others, represent both petitioners and respondents.

“This gives me a broad view that even the supposed winners acknowledge that the electioneering process was flawed. Worryingly, some of INEC officials, including RECs and returning officers, were not neutral.

“Lots of the Certificate of Return issued by INEC will be returned. I know, as a matter of fact, that there will be review of some of the outcomes,” he said.

On how to avoid a repeat of the irregularities witnessed during the elections, the Principal Partner of Festus Ogun Legal demands a system that makes the electoral body “truly independent”.

“This starts from the appointment of INEC leadership; the mode of
appointment needs to be reviewed.

The Adamawa experience shows clearly that some INEC officials are not neutral.

“These characters, with respect, are a misfit and a product of a system that allows rogue politicians to appoint their cronies into INEC key decision- making positions”, Ogun added.

Section 132 (7) & (8.) of the Electoral Act, 2022 allows for petitions to be filed within 21 days after the declaration of results, while the respondents have 21 days to respond.

The judges at the tribunals have 180 days to deliver judgment, and taking into account the April 15 supplementary elections, verdicts are expected between May and October 2023.

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