DEMAND FOR THE DEBRIEFING AND REMOVAL OF DR. ONYECHI IKPEAZU SAN FROM THE LIST OF THE COMMISSION’S LAWYERS.
2nd June, 2015
Independent National Electoral Commission,
Plot 436, Zambezi Crescent,
Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC) is a coalition of over hundred and fifty Anti-corruption organizations whose primary aim is to constructively combat corruption vigorously and to ensure the effective monitoring of the various Anti-graft agencies in the fight against corruption and contribute towards the enthronement of transparency, accountability, probity and total commitment in the fight to eradicate corruption in Nigeria.
On the 2nd day of April, 2015, your Commission issued a Press Statement informing all Nigerians on the mandatory use of Card Readers for the April 11th 2015 Governorship and Houses of Assembly Elections. The Commission went further to state that the relaxation of its guideline on the strict usage of Card Readers during the 28th March, 2015 was only with respect to the Presidential and National Assembly Elections. On April 8, 2015 the Commission issued another Directive to emphasize the mandatory use of the Card Readers for accreditation in the Governorship/House of Assembly Election.
However, in flagrant disregard of this directives of the Commission, Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN) in a Reply to a Petition filed before the Delta State Governorship/Houses of Assembly Election Petition Tribunal, as Counsel to the Commission (sued as 3rd Respondent) averred in Paragraphs 9-13 that the Approved Guidelines and Regulations for the conduct of the 2015 General Elections and the Manual for Election Officers are mere instructions /directives by the Commission which do not have the force of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) thereby undermining the instructions of the Commission. In paragraph 13, it was stated as follows:
“The 3rd Respondent admits paragraph 16.4 to the extent that the use of card readers to read the Permanent Voters’ Card (PVC) of a voter to authenticate it by scanning it and to verify the voter, but denies that 3rd Respondent prescribed the mandatory use of electronic card readers for the accreditation of voters for the election held on 11th April, 2015 in each polling unit in each Local Government Area of Delta State.”
Your commission has in its resolve to deliver free, fair and credible elections to the Nigerian people introduced the use of PVCs and Card Readers to checkmate fraud and manipulation at the just concluded polls. It will now amount to a mockery of the efforts of the Commission to dismiss the directives regarding this as mere instructions especially coming from a Seasoned Legal Practitioner in the person of Dr. Ikpeazu and more importantly, counsel to the Commission.
From the aforementioned, it can be seen that the Counsel to the Commission disregarded the express directives of the Commission by reducing them to mere instructions which anyone can either choose to comply with or otherwise. This in our opinion diminishes the esteemed position of the Commission in the discharge of its duties of ensuring a free, fair and credible election, and will also serve as a leeway for anyone to ride on the averments in this Reply and disregard the express directives of the Commission now and in future elections.
CSNAC, in pursuance of our Election and Tribunal Monitoring Project, is therefore demanding that the Commission debriefs Dr. Ikpeazu SAN and also remove his name from the list of Counsels to the Commission to prevent further disregard of the Commission’s directives, breach of trust and in order that the Commission is accurately represented at all times.
Thank you in anticipation of your favourable response and urgent consideration.