Calabar – The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has rejected a Federal High Court’s judgment which nullified the House of Assembly election in Bakassi Local Government Area of Cross River State and the order for a fresh election within 30 days.
The court sitting in Calabar and presided over by Justice Adetokunbo Ademola had, weekend, declared the House of Assembly election in Bakassi as a nullity and unconstitutional and ordered fresh election in the area.
The Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, candidate for Bakassi state constituency, Mr. Joe Etene, had dragged INEC and the State Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, Mr. Mike Igini, to court, challenging the legality of the electoral umpire and REC to conduct elections in Bakassi outside the areas prescribed by the State Law No. 7 of 2007.
Chairman of the Bakassi council, Dr. Ekpo Bassey, in a telephone chat, lauded the court judgment, describing it as a milestone that will restore and strengthen democracy in the country.
Reacting to the judgment, Mr. Igini queried the legality of the Federal High Court to entertain the matter and its power to nullify election and order conduct of fresh election, where there was a sitting Election Tribunal, vested with such exclusive jurisdiction.
He said: “I have not seen nor read the court judgment in question so as to make a full statement. But then, can a state in Nigeria within the framework of the current constitution and in the light of the Supreme Court judgment in the Lagos State case, create an LGA called (New Bakassi) without a consequential order of the National Assembly?
“Also, can a state make a law to alter substantially federal laws guiding the activities of a federal agency such as INEC? Or, can a state make a law that would create obligation on federal agencies?
“Besides, can a Federal High Court nullify a return of an election and order the conduct of another election within 30 days, where there is a sitting electoral tribunal vested with such exclusive power?”BY Johnbosco Agbakwuru