Why we conducted LG polls — Jigawa SIEC
The Jigawa State Independent Electoral Commission (JGSIEC) went ahead and conducted the last local government elections in the state because contrary to claims by some aggrieved politicians, an ex parte order granted by the Federal High Court, Dutse that purported to stop the election elapsed after fourteen days, the commission’s legal counsel, Barrister Adamu Mukhtar, said yesterday.
He said under the Federal High Court’s rules, an ex parte order shall not last for more than 14 days after filing an application to vary same, which JGSIEC did on June 15, this year.
Mukhtar was speaking to Daily Trust on the suit filed by members of the Jigawa State PDP’s Makarfi faction seeking to annul the last local government elections.
Giving a background to the issue, he said JGSIEC was faced with a problem when two PDP factions submitted lists of candidates. He said the commission accepted candidates certified by Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, who was the party’s national chairman before the Supreme Court ruling on the dispute.
Makarfi faction members then instituted an action before Justice Sabi’u Yahuza of the Federal High Court, Dutse against the commission, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, PDP Chairman Jigawa Chapter and INEC. He said INEC “was deceptively joined as a party in order to confer jurisdiction on the Federal High Court, knowing fully that such court has no business with local government council election.”
According to him, “The suit was filed via originating summons, briefs were exchanged between counsel and a date was fixed for same to be moved on the 13th June, 2017 only to notice an ex parte order pasted on social media on the 12th June, 2017 restraining the Commission.” The Commission was formally served with the said order at the court premises on June 13th while its lawyers filed a motion on June 15 to vary or discharge the said order before the same court. He said “the court refused or neglected to entertain such motion and instead adjourned the matter to September 20th 2017.”
He said since the ex parte order had lapsed on June 29, JGSIEC “made it known to the public on June 29 that the said ex parte order had elapsed and expressed its readiness to conduct the Local Government Council Election as scheduled on the July 1, 2017.”
Barrister Mukhtar however said the same day, June 29, the commission’s lawyers were served with another order dated June 29th but purported to be moved and granted on the June 19,th June, 2017. He said “the order of June 19th 2017 has no required roots before the court as there was no motion or application made to that effect.” He said “assuming without conceding that the order was obtained appropriately, same does not refer to the motion filed on behalf of the commission on the 15th June 2017. Instead it refers to the purported motion filed by solicitors to Dr. Ali Modu Sheriff and hence there is no way it can truncate the 14th days life span granted by the legal instruments quoted and referred above.”
He said the commission, “having regard to the above and the legal advice objectively obtained from its legal department went ahead and conduced the said Local Government Council Election.”
He expressed surprise that though the Federal High Court Dutse refused to hear their lawyer’s plea that it had no jurisdiction to hear the case, it ruled after 15 months in a case filed by the same PDP leaders last year asking it to order JGSIEC to conduct local government elections that it had no jurisdiction.
He said after the election was conducted, the PDP leaders filed contempt of court charges against JGSIEC’s commission members in their personal capacities for allegedly violating the ex parte order even though Section 11 Jigawa State Independent Electoral Commission cap J19 laws of Jigawa State 2012 “makes members of the commission legally protected from legal liability for any act or omission or default as long as such act, omission or default is done in good faith.”