Nigeria elections: Peter Obi group sues INEC over voter registration halt
The Peter Obi Support Network (POSN) has sued the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over its “failure to comply with the constitutional provisions that require the Commission to continue voter registration until at least 90 days” before elections.
In Suit No FHC/ABJ/CS/1342/2022 filed by Ikechukwu Ezechukwu, SAN & Co., the Plaintiffs argue that INEC’s abrupt termination of the voter registration exercise would disenfranchise millions of eligible voters during the 2023 presidential election.
The suit before the Federal High Court Abuja seeks an order compelling INEC to reverse its earlier directive halting the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise across the country on July 31, 2022, and declaring as ultra vires, the decision to put a timeline on the CVR exercise outside the timeline provided by the 2022 Electoral Act, as amended.
The Plaintiffs raised the following issues for Determination:
“Whether having regards to the combined 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, the Defendant can or has the right or latitude to stop the continuous voter’s registration on 31st July, 2022, about over Seven and Half (71/2) months (208 days), or any other day not until ninety (90) days before the General Elections when there are millions of prospective voters including the Plaintiffs who have not Registered and are willing to do so.”
The Plaintiffs prayed the court for the following reliefs:
“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 billed to take place on 25th February 2023 and 11th March 2023.
“A DECLARATION that it is the Constitutional responsibility of the Defendant to make sure that every prospective Nigeria voter who has shown a desire to Register to vote are not derived their Civil right to Register and participate in the forthcoming General Elections Scheduled to take place on 25th February 2023 and 11th March 2023.
“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 25th February 2023 and 11th March 2023.”
Lead Counsel, Ifeanyi Nrialike said over three hundred POSN members across the 36 states and Abuja expressed frustration over their inability to register because of the stoppage of the Voters Registration exercise by INEC.
One of the Plaintiffs, Ernest N. Stanley narrated how, on several occasions, he could not register at a CVR centre in Lugbe due to the mammoth crowd of prospective voters.