The Independent National Electoral Commission is expected to spend over N1.9bn on legal fees and related matters as aggrieved candidates challenge the outcomes of various elections in court.
Atiku, a former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio, and others have already challenged the result of the elections in court.
The information is contained in INEC’s 2019 Election Project Plan which was obtained by The PUNCH.
The document reads in part, “N1, 796, 547, 500.00. Professional fees and expenses for external solicitors to be engaged by the commission to represent it at the tribunals and appeals; honorarium for legal officers that represent the commission at election petitions and appeals.
“Analysis of fees: Governorship petition at N4.5m X 20; senatorial petition at N3m X 45; House of Reps at N2.7m X105; state House of Assembly N1.350m X 244. Honorarium to in-house lawyers is seven per cent of fees payable to external solicitors.”
Of the sum, N6m was spent on pre-election cases which are disputes that arose from the conduct of party primaries.
The commission will also spend a separate N26.5m on monitoring the hearing of election petitions and appeals across the 36 states and the FCT.
The sum will cover duty tour allowance and transport costs for the monitors at the hearing of election petitions and appeals as well as the compilation and printing of reports of petitions and appeals.
The electoral umpire also budgeted a separate N99.5m for the compilation and production of updated electoral legal framework including the code of conduct for external lawyers and code of conduct for staff.
A separate N25m will be spent on the prosecution of electoral offenders.
Yakubu had revealed in January that the commission battled 1, 134 legal cases arising from election disputes in 2015, 2016 and 2017.
He added, “In the course of discharging our responsibilities, no public institution in Nigeria is subjected to more litigation than INEC. Over the last two years (2016 and 2017), the commission has been involved in 454 court cases in addition to 680 cases determined by the Election Petitions Tribunals arising from the outcome of the 2015 general elections, making a total of 1,134 cases so far.”
In another forum, Yakubu said no government agency in the country had been taken to court more than INEC because every aggrieved candidate would join the commission in almost every suit.