Legal luminary, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, has kicked against Section 65 of the Electoral Act, saying it is a very dangerous act in our electoral system, which empowers the Chief Returning Officer of INEC, to return and also review his decision.
Olanipekun said: “To me [it] is a very dangerous section, so novel in the sense that, here you have a section that empowers a returning officer after returning to review his decision within a period of seven days.”
According to the legal giant: “The returning officer is not a court of law, not a tribunal, not vested with jurisdiction to exercise quasi-decision or to assume jurisdiction over any matter that is judicial in nature.”
Olanipekun made the remarks yesterday when he paid a private visit to Governor Biodun Oyebanji in his office in Ado Ekiti yesterday.
According to the former NBA President, “that section of the Electoral Act, [is] giving a returning officer, and by extension, INEC, the power to do and undo.”
He pointed out that he is not aware of any similar section in any of any similar section in previous electoral acts, or any similar section in any of the electoral acts of any country in the world.
“When you now invest in a returning officer of INEC, the power to do and undo, the power to return and review his decision is dangerous to the polity,” he said.
He added: “The Chief Returning Officer is the Chairman of INEC, meaning you can return someone as President today, and tomorrow, when there are agitations here and there, he may withdraw his decision, saying “I am revising myself and am now returning somebody else”.”
Chief Olanipekun said he was so surprised that the National Assembly have to allow that section in the Electoral Act which they submitted to Mr President for signing.
He urged National Assembly members that they can still remove that proviso and called on all stakeholders, particularly political parties, to “shine their eyes,” to monitor INEC and especially, returning officers, so that nothing untoward happens to any party [and] candidate.