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UPDATED: Court refuses to order INEC to resume CVR over short day to election

A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Tuesday, refused to direct the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to resume the continuous voter’s registration (CVR) exercise. Justice…

A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Tuesday, refused to direct the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to resume the continuous voter’s registration (CVR) exercise.

Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a judgment, held that going by the date of thie verdict, INEC would have had “just a few days away from 90 days before the general elections”.

Justice 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 Nigeria voter who have shown desire to register to vote are not deprived, their civil right to register and participate in the forthcoming general elections scheduled to take place on 25th February, 2023 and 11th March, 2023.”

According to Justice Ekwo, “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 News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that four plaintiffs; Anajat Salmat, Mr Earnest Stanley, Chief Charles Okafor and Mr Samuel Oluwakemi had sued INEC for discontinued 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 have shown desire to register to vote are not deprived their civil right to register and participate in the forthcoming general elections.

“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 5th February, 2023 and 11th March, 2023.”

Delivering the judgment, the judge said: “The case of the plaiintiffs therefore succeeds on the merit and I answer their sole question in the negative.

“1 also answer the questions of the defendant as follows: Question 1, partially in the positive, and Question 2, in the positive. “
NAN reports that INEC, in its argument, had said that 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 same could commence in earnest.(NAN)

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that the court did not order INEC to continue voter registration as initially reported. The error is regretted.