2023: Court refuses to order INEC to resume voter registration
The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court on Tuesday declined to direct the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to resume the continuous voter registration exercise.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a judgement, held that going by the date of the verdict, INEC would have had “just a few days away from 90 days before the general elections.”
Mr Ekwo, however, declared that INEC “is expected pursuant to the provisions of sections 76 (2), 77 (2), 116 (2), 117 (2), 132 (2) & (5) and 178 (2) and (5) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) as well as sections 9 (1), 9 (6), 10 (1) and 12 (1) of the Electoral Acts, 2022, to continue voters registration, update and revision of voters register until 90 days before the general election billed to take place on February 25 and March 11.
“It is the constitutional responsibility of the defendant (INEC) to make sure that every prospective Nigeria voter who has shown desire to register to vote is not deprived of their civil right to register and participate in the forthcoming general elections scheduled to take place on 25th February 2023 and 11th March 2023.”
“This court is unable to grant relief number 3 of the plaintiffs because going by the date of this judgement, from the date of this judgement, the defendant will have just a few days away from 90 days before the general elections of 25th February 2023 and 11th March 2023.”
The plaintiffs, Anajat Salmat, Earnest Stanley, Charles Okafor, and Samuel Oluwakemi, sued INEC for discontinuing the voter registration exercise on July 31.
INEC was the sole defendant in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1343/2022.
The plaintiffs had prayed the court for three reliefs, which include “a declaration that the defendant is expected pursuant to the provisions of Sections 76 (2), 77 (2), 116 (2), 117 (2), 132 (2) & (5) and 178 (2) & (5) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) as well as Sections 9 (1), 9 (6), 10 (1) and 12 (1) of the Electoral Acts, 2022, to continue voters registration, update and revision of voters register till 90 days before the general election.
“A declaration that it is the constitutional responsibility of the defendant to make sure that every prospective Nigerian voter who has shown the desire to register to vote are not deprived of their civil right to register and participate in the forthcoming general elections.
“An order of the court directing the defendant to resume immediately the registration of new voters, updating and revision of the register of voters until at least 90 days to the general election slated to hold on 5th February 2023 and 11th March 2023.”
Delivering the judgement, the judge said, “The case of the plaintiffs, therefore, succeeds on the merit, and I answer their sole question in the negative.
“Question 1, partially in the positive, and Question 2, in the positive.”
INEC, in its argument, had said it ended the CVR exercise at the time it did because it needed to end the exercise so that the permanent voters’ cards (PVCs) could be printed in good time and the distribution of the same could commence in earnest.
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