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General News of Sunday, 17 February 2019

Source: 3 News

Over 600 law suits scuttled Saturday’s elections in Nigeria

The late hour postponement of Nigeria’s general elections on Saturday was occasioned by a number of factors that seemed to be above the control of the country’s electoral body, including overwhelming law suits.

Chairman of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu told a press conference Saturday that his outfit has as many as 640 cases in court arising from the nomination of candidates.

He said as of Saturday there were 40 orders against the Commission to drop or add a candidate.

The Commission pulled a surprise on Saturday when it postponed African’s most populous country’s presidential election few hours to the polls. Days to the exercise, the electoral commissioner had assured Nigerians they were set for February 16 elections and nothing will caused a postponement.

“The decision was a painful one to INEC but necessary for the overall interest of our democracy,” Prof. Mahmood Yakubu said.

The presidential election will now come off February 23 but many Nigerians, including the front runners of the presidential election – Atiku Abubakar and President Muhammadu Buhari – have registered their displeasure on the late announcement.

Aside the myriad of law suits, Prof. Yakubu told journalists that even though ballot papers and result sheets were ready, they could not be airlifted to various parts of the country.

This he blamed on “bad weather” which he said disrupted flight movements. This means if they had gone ahead with the elections, some areas would not be able to start voting at 8:00am local time as planned, a situation the Commission wanted to avoid.

He also mentioned that several of the Commission’s office across the country were recently burnt down, which affected the smooth running of its activities.

Meanwhile, West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) said it is disappointed in the postponement but it is giving the Commission “the benefit of the doubt” that election materials would not be compromised.

Executive Director of WANEP, Chukwuemeka Eze, said although the decision have socio-economic and political consequences for all stakeholders “we implore the electorate and the political parties to continue to exercise patience and understanding and refrain from acts that could jeopardize the peaceful conduct of the process”.

But Prof. Yakubu has parried claims of manipulation and promised to supervise “transparent” elections that would be “free, fair and credible”.

Meanwhile, Commissioner for Macro Economic Policy and Economic Research of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Kofi Konadu Apraku has reiterated the need for Nigeria to stick to better macroeconomic policies to better its ailing economy.

Speaking exclusively to 3news.com’s Komla Klutse who is in Abuja covering the election, Dr Apraku expressed his disappointment at the postponement of the elections and prayed for political stability in Nigeria.

He noted that with Nigeria controlling 85% of ECOWAS GDP, when “Nigeria sneezes West Africa catches cold”.

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