The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has responded to the accusation by the Senator representing Kaduna Central, Shehu Sani, that it hired a lawyer for Governor Nasir El-Rufai to represent it at the National and State Assemblies election petition tribunal in Kaduna State.
Mr Sani, of the Peoples Redemption Party, PRP, in a petition dated April 12, 2019 and signed by his lawyer, Avong Didam, to the tribunal, had accused the election umpire and the Kaduna State Government of attempting to deny him justice at the tribunal.
“We have enough evidence that A.U Mustapha is a personal lawyer to Nasiru El-Rufa’i, Governor of Kaduna State,” Mr Sani said in a press conference on Monday.
“As a personal lawyer to El-Rufa’i now hired by INEC in a case where El-Rufai is a party is not acceptable.
“It is suspicious that the governor of the state and INEC are using A.U. Mustapha and Co, who remains El-Rufa’i personal lawyer,” the senator said.
However, a statement by the INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Public enlightenment, Festus Okoye, said: “The Independent National Electoral Commission has a list of External Solicitors that it engages for the prosecution of pre and post-election matters.
“These solicitors are based in different parts of the country and must have represented a variety of clients and interests in the past.”
INEC insisted that its solicitors are selected through the highest standard of ethics and are guided by the Commissions Code of Conduct for External Solicitors.
The Commission noted that in the assignment of cases to the external solicitor for the petition filed by Senator Shehu Sani, Governor El-Rufai could not have been a major consideration and issue because he did not contest the senatorial election in Kaduna State.
“The Governor of Kaduna State is not a respondent or party in the Petition and the Commission has no reason to believe that the solicitor appointed by the Commission will subvert the cause of justice,” INEC said.