Candidates of the People’s Democratic Party in Edo state have been warned against embarking on campaigns ahead of the 2023 general election because of the numerous court cases which could make them scape-goats in the face of the new electoral law.
A legal consultant to INEC and Convener of the Centre for Electoral Values in Africa, Dr. Amos Ikuruka made this known in Benin city over the weekend while fielding questions from newsmen. He added that it was better for the affected candidates to seek legal interpretation before jumping to conclusions especially with the recent Supreme Court ruling.
Ikuruka who was a former Deputy Director in INEC revealed that with the numerous cases concerning the crises in Edo state PDP, any candidate who proceeds to campaign could be prosecuted and embarrassed for contempt of court. “Any candidate who jumps into the field to start campaigning may just be exposing himself or herself to the judicial tests of the law. INEC on its part may prosecute such erring persons just to deepen our electoral culture.”
He further stated that, “all interested factions in the party would have been served notices of the numerous suits pending at various courts on the same issue. It is good they are abreast of these information because ignorance is never an excuse in law. Some of the cases are very germane. Until they are concluded, nobody should go ahead to campaign.”
“It is important that all affected persons kept calm and allow the judiciary perfect the matters so that they don’t fall short of the law. Political parties should take the lead in advising their members so that they don’t make matters worse for their parties. The INEC we have today is not the same INEC of yester years. Anyone who fails to adhere to the electoral laws may just be walking to jail as the umpire body and other security agencies were lurking at the sidelines to bite when and where necessary.”
With last week Supreme Court ruling, candidates across the divide have been celebrating and flagging off campaigns to the surprise of many people. According Ikuruka, “this is totally wrong. Let them listen to their lawyers before jumping to conclusions. As it is now, no one knows the authentic candidates in PDP in Edo state except the courts and INEC.”
Ikuruka who is also in the advocacy for the EU Support for Democratic Governance in Nigeria (SDGN) and INEC partnerships for Nigeria, urged politicians to remain resolute and be law abiding for the interest of the country rather for their selfish purposes. He commended the European Union for partnering with INEC and shifting their attention to the phase two of their support for Nigeria’s electoral and legislative systems.
The convener of the Centre for Electoral Values in Africa added his voice to the growing call for State Police. He stated that a hybrid police system will make Nigeria electoral systems stronger, with the creation of police at the state level alongside the Police Service Commission as the ombudsman at the federal level to check excesses of the security agencies across the federation.
On Edo PDP crises, the former INEC official remarked that the last have not been heard as the cases in court must be exhausted for the party to move forward. The court cases concerning the primaries in Edo PDP he said were still numerous.