The publicity secretary of the Labour Party, Enugu State, Comrade Ibuchukwu Ohabuenyi Ezike, Saturday, said swearing in of INEC-declared winners of the 2023 general elections whose victories are being interrogated at tribunals ‘is a rape of democracy’.
Ezike spoke with our correspondent in Enugu. According to him, “Not concluding electoral litigations before swearing in winners whose victories are being contested is a promotion of corruption, injustice and rape of democratic principles because, as we have witnessed in this country, people who didn’t win elections have lasted in political offices they didn’t win for years because of this worthless Act or policy.
“I belong to the class of Nigerians who prefer that the whole legal electoral processes are concluded before the swearing-in of the elected persons into office.”
Also speaking, a political analyst, Comrade Osmond Onu, blamed the Independent National Electoral Commission for thwarting the hopes of a majority of Nigerians towards accomplishing credible polls in 2023.
Onu, an accomplished author, said, “Nigeria’s 2023 general elections have come and gone. The battle ground has now shifted to the judiciary where the legal fireworks have commenced.
“But personally, I am not comfortable with the six months’ timeline it will take court to decide election matters in Nigeria. I, like many other Nigerians, am of the view that election matters supposed to have been concluded before the swearing-in of any elected official whose position is being contested. The general notion is that the judiciary would be compromised once the person you are deliberating against is the person paying you.
“The general belief was that the Electoral Act 2018, as amended, would take care of this, but unfortunately, it was not so. Being in court with someone who controls all the levers of power is tantamount to fighting a man with AK 47 with a bare hand.
“We are aware of how the electorate trooped out en masse to cast their votes in numbers, believing that the BVAS will be the game-changer in 2023, but it wasn’t so. If INEC could be compromised when the person was just a contestant, is it now that the person holds the political power that you will get fair justice?”
It would be recalled that Dr Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, in an interview, on Friday, at the Enugu State Election Petition Tribunal, said, “It’s a constitutional aberration not to swear in INEC-declared winners in the 2023 elections on May 29”, describing it as ‘perplexing’.
However, Ikpeazu’s view is contrary to that of constitutional lawyer, Aloy Ejimakor.
Ejimakor argued that, “If the result declared by INEC does not accord with the Electoral Act, it then follows that such result does not, ipso facto, accord with the Constitution, because the Electoral Act is a product of (and subservient to) the Constitution – the grundnorm. The river never flows backwards. Thus, any repugnancy in the Electoral Act must yield to the demands of the Constitution.
“Thus, by virtue of Section 1(2) of the constitution, inaugurating a new President on May 29 while the Court (as the final umpire) is yet to call the final result would mean that persons (or a group of persons) have taken control of the Government of Nigeria in a manner that does not accord with the Constitution.
“If a new President is sworn-in on May 29 and subsequently, the Tribunal or the Supreme Court (again: the final umpire) invalidates the election, what would you say happened to the Government of Nigeria during the period the sacked President held office before the final judgment?”