Polls: Court declines to compel INEC to allow temporary voters card
The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja yesterday struck out a suit seeking to compel the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to allow registered voters unable to collect their Permanent Voters Cards, PVCs, before the deadline, to participate in the forthcoming general elections, using either their temporary voter card or the Voters Identification Number, VIN.
The court, in a judgement delivered by Justice Binta Nyako, struck out the suit on the premise that the deadline INEC gave for the collection of PVCs across the federation, has not elapsed.
Justice Nyako held that it would amount to an academic exercise for the court to issue the order, when INEC, in furtherance of its decision to only allow those with PVCs to participate in the impending elections, extended the deadline for collection of the voters card.
The suit, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/2348/2022, was brought before the court by a non-governmental organization under the aegis of the Incorporated Trustees of International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law, alongside two other plaintiffs- Emmanuel Chukwuka and Bruno Okeahialam.
The plaintiffs told the court that they filed the action for themselves and on behalf of over 20million registered voters they said were at risk of being disenfranchised by INEC in the 2023 general elections.
In the suit that had INEC as the sole Defendant, the Plaintiffs, through their lawyer, Mr. Max Ozoaka, argued that in view of several administrative bottlenecks and challenges that are currently trailing the collection of PVCs across the federation, many registered voters would be denied the right to exercise their franchise.
They asked the court to determine whether; “Having regard to the clear and unambiguous relevant provision of the Electoral Act, 2022, and the true intendment of Section 47 (1) thereof, whether the defendant, can as a consequence of their own contraption, bottleneck, compromise and negligence, dasenfranchise or otherwise deprive the plaintiffs and a class of persons they represent in this suit, the right and opportunity to vote in the forthcoming general election fixed for February 25 to March 12, 2023.”
Upon determination of the legal question, the plaintiffs, are praying the court for: “A Declaration that having duly registered and been captured in the Defendant‘s Register of Voters and electronic database of registered voters, the Plaintiffs and all persons they represent in this suit are entitled to exercise their right to vote in the forthcoming general elections fixed for February to March 2023.
“A Declaration that all persons who have duly registered with the Defendant as voters and whose names are contained in the Defendant‘s Register of Voters and or electronic database of registered voters should not and cannot be deprived of the right and opportunity to vote in the forthcoming general election.”