The Independent National Electoral Commission or INEC has appealed a high court decision asking the agency to include embattled Vice President Atiku Abubakar as a presidential candidate in this month's poll. INEC’s position has been that Abubakar’s ban is not subject to intervention by the courts because it is a constitutional matter.
Fred Agbaje is a Nigerian-based attorney. He says that claims by opposition parties and groups that the INEC action is a ploy to keep Abubakar from the polls are unfounded.
“INEC is a creation of the statute and the creation of the constitution in Nigeria," he said. "It has lost a case at the Federal High Court so it has every constitutional right of appeal.”
He says while the appeal process is going forward, INEC has to obey the court judgment on the candidacy of Abubakar.
“If for any reason the appellate court cannot take the INEC appeal, it means the judgment of the lower court will have to be obeyed by INEC," he said. "INEC has no option”.
Agbaje says a refusal to obey a court order will open the way for lawlessness in the country.
“Gone are the days where a party to a suit in Nigeria will say it is not prepared to obey the decision of a high court or Supreme Court. Once you are a litigant and the court rules against you, you are duty bound to obey the judgment of that court,” he said.