• en

Fred Nzeakor: INEC Has Woefully Failed Nigerians

“I feel so sad, I feel so disappointed that our democracy is not growing in the direction that will bring development to the country.”

Fred Nzeakor, a Nigerian lawyer and public analyst, has said that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has failed Nigerians in the way the body conducted the 2023 general elections.

 In an interview with ARISE NEWS on Thursday, Nzeakor spoke on the inconsistencies with the electoral process for the earlier conducted 2023 general election across the Presidency, state Governors, Senate seats, and the House of Assembly representatives’ seats, saying that there are over 550 election tribunal cases in court, and he faulted INEC about this matter to an extent.

Nzeakor expressed his disappointment saying, “I feel so sad, I feel so disappointed that our democracy is not growing in the direction we expected it to grow, in the direction that will bring development to the country.”

Speaking regarding the part that INEC played in these issues, Nzeakor said that “INEC has failed Nigerians so woefully, so massively woefully that you now begin to doubt whether the vote of the people count anymore.” He said that there was no point in the INEC bragging about spending over 300 billion naira in acquiring materials for the election when the turnout was so poor, that they needed to spend more money on the re-runs that the court ordered them to carry out in several constituencies.

Nzeakor also said that due to the electoral issues, the legislators will be distracted from their work, saying that they will dedicate about a year to post-election issues, while the final year of their tenure will be dedicated to preparing for transition into the next administration. “Many issues that are yearning for attention in the court are stagnated because the judges are facing election matters,” he said, “So, what it now means is that we have a four-year tenure, but we have two years of active work. And that is why a lot of the laws that are yearning to be touched are not yet touched. A lot of the laws that are even touched are now hurriedly churned out that it will bring a lot of confusion to the system.”

Nzeakor maintained that there are many loopholes in the 2022 electoral act on issues relating to INEC guidelines and other elements that were not properly captured. “So, the implication is that our democracy is not moving in the direction of growth and development. If, at the end of the day, virtually all the election issues will end up in court,” he said.

Nzeakor then said that INEC had to be sanctioned for the turnout of the 2023 elections. “Something must give,” he said, “An institution must be established by law to sanction INEC… We will not presume the innocence of INEC in this matter because INEC is the major problem, the major culprit.”

The lawyer also said that “INEC has exposed the judiciary to a boomeranging effect,” explaining that the inconsistencies of INEC had, in turn, exposed the inconsistencies in the judiciary. He said, “While we are also looking at INEC, judiciary needs to really firm up electoral issues, because it is giving it a very bad name. There is a lot of inconsistency in political adjudication.”

Speaking on the ways to prevent similar situations in the future, Nzeakor said, “We will not stop mentioning the Ways Report. We must go back to that report and bring out the fine ingredients of that report to strengthen our electoral process. In doing that, we must look at who appoints the national commissioners and the electoral commissioners.”

He also said that INEC has been given a lot of “latitude,” and as a result, “We need to bring some of those guidelines in a strait jacket so that the room for discretion, or indiscretion in this case, will be very limited and very minimized, and INEC will now operate by the rules.”

Ozioma Samuel-Ugwuezi