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Court Declines Ordering INEC to Resume Voter Registration


Alex Enumah in Abuja

Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, yesterday, refused to grant a request directing the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to resume the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise.

The court refused to grant the request on the grounds that the days left for registration in line with the law were very few.

According to the judge, going by the date of the verdict, INEC would have had “just a few days away from 90 days before the general election”.

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 Feb. 25 and March 11.

“It is the constitutional responsibility of the defendant (INEC) to make sure that every prospective Nigerian voter, who has shown desire to register to vote, is not deprived his civil right to register and participate in the forthcoming general elections scheduled to take place on February 25, 2023 and March 11, 2023.”

The judge held, “This court is unable to grant relief number 3 of the plaintiffs, because going by the date of this judgement, the defendant will have just a few days away from 90 days before the general election of February 25 and March 11, 2023.”

The plaintiffs, Anajat Salmat, Earnest Stanley, Chief Charles Okafor, and Mr. Samuel Oluwakemi, had dragged INEC to court for stopping the voter registration exercise on July 31.

The plaintiffs, in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1343/2022, prayed the court for three reliefs, which included, “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 voter’s 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 desire to register to vote is not deprived their civil right to register and participate in the forthcoming general election.

“An order of 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 February 25, 2023 and March 11, 2023.”

But Ekwo held, “The case of the plaintiffs therefore succeeds on the merit and I answer their sole question in the negative. I also answer the questions of the defendant as follows: 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, so that the Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) could be printed in good time, and the distribution of same could commence in earnest.

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