Presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), in the recent general election, Mr Peter Obi, has questioned why the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is objecting to the petition against the election of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as president.
Obi in his reply to INEC’s response to his petition at the Court of Appeal, Abuja, observed that the action of the electoral umpire was not only unwarranted but an embarrassment to the country.
According to the petition, INEC in line with global best practice for electoral umpires in national elections ought to “avoid creating the impression that it has no respect for neutrality in an electoral contest between candidates”.
ThisDay reports that Obi and his party, who are joint petitioners recalled several judgments which had repeatedly admonished INEC of its need to remain neutral in election proceedings.
“However, the I st Respondent hereof, has remained impervious to change. Therefore, it is not only an embarrassment but a repudiation of the duty of the I st Respondent when it adorns the garb of a contestant in an election it conducted as an umpire to raise preliminary objection against an Election Petition as in the case hereof”, the petitioners said.
It is the case of the petitioners that INEC must maintain neutrality in all litigations where participants in elections are challenging the outcome of the elections and not indulge in filling objections to the Petition.
However, the petitioners in their reply to the Preliminary Objection dated April 25 deny the contention that the facts supporting the grounds on which the Petition is based are vague and imprecise.
“The I st Respondent’s contention that the reliefs sought in the Petition are not grantable is false and made in manifest disregard of the specific and concise pleadings in the Petition.
“The pleading in the 1 st Respondent’s Notice of Preliminary Objection that the allegation in paragraph 20(ii) of the Petition is defective and does not disclose a cause of action, is wishful thinking. The specific particulars of non-compliance complained of which substantially affected the outcome of the election are as pleaded in paragraphs 33 to 78 of the Petition.
“The Petitioners further aver that Reliefs 3, 5(i) and 5(ii) of the Petition are grantable and are amply supported by the detailed particulars of non-compliance alleged in the Petition”.