Olisa Agbakoba, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), says the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is a neutral body which cannot take orders from the federal government.
Agbakoba said this in reaction to the letter written by Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation, asking INEC to postpone elections in Zamfara state because of litigation.
The crisis in the Zamfara chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) affected primary elections.
Malami asked INEC to postpone the elections and allow APC prepare for the polls since the courts admitted that primaries were held.
However, Agbakoba said it is only the APC that can make such a request from the electoral body.
He also reminded Malami that President Muhammadu Buhari had promised non-interference in the activities of INEC.
In a letter dated February 14, the senior advocate asked Malami to withdraw his letter, which according to him, undermines the president’s commitment.
“I am shocked by your letter to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the above subject. You are the Attorney General of the Federation and not the Attorney General of INEC,” Agbakoba said.
“INEC is an independent institution and cannot take directives from the Federal Government. If there is need for the postponement of the Zamfara state elections as indicated in your letter, the proper person to request the postponement is the All the Progressive Congress (APC).
“In any case, Sections 38 and 39 of the Electoral Act 2010 which your request is based on have nothing to do with postponement of elections.
“President Muhammadu Buhari has at various fora undertaken that the Federal Government will not interfere with INEC. Your letter puts that commitment to question.
“It is my hope that this letter will be immediately withdrawn.”
Agbakoba also wrote Mahmood Yakubu, INEC chairman, asking him to disregard Malami’s letter.
“INEC is an independent institution and should not take directives from the Attorney General of the Federation or the Federal Government,” he told INEC.
“ If there is need for the postponement of the Zamfara state elections, the proper person to request the postponement is the All the Progressive Congress (APC).
“In any case, Sections 38 and 39 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) which the Attorney General’s request is based on have nothing to do with postponement of elections.
“INEC should disregard the Attorney General’s letter.”
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