Legal Luminary, Wole Olanipekun, SAN, has described Section 65 of the Electoral Act, which empowers the Chief Returning Officer of INEC to return and also review his decision, as very dangerous to the country’s electoral system
Olanipekun, made the remarks on Wednesday, when he paid a courtesy visit to Governor Biodun Oyebani, in his office in Ado-Ekiti.
According to the legal icon, the returning officer is not a court of law or a tribunal that should be vested with such powers, noting that the novel idea is dangerous to the electoral process.
“To me 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.
“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.
“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.
“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.”
Olanipekun said he was so surprised that the National Assembly have to allow that section to creep into the electoral act which they submitted to Mr President for signing.
He urged the national assembly members that they can still remove that proviso and called on all stakeholders, particularly the political parties to “shine their eyes”, to monitor INEC, the returning officers, so that nothing untoward happens to any party, any candidate returned to be unreturned again.