Court fixes Sept 20 to hear suit challenging INEC’s decision to end voters’ registration exercise

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A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Tuesday, fixed Sept. 20 for hearing a suit challenging the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)’s decision to end the continuous voter’s registration (CVR) exercise on July 31.

Justice Inyang Ekwo fixed the date after counsel for INEC, Alhassan Umar, SAN, told the court that the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Benson Igbanoi, served him with a further and better affidavit the previous day and he would need time to respond.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the plaintiffs; Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, and Abubakar Sani, in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1335/2022, had sued INEC.

They had sought an injunctive order compelling the electoral umpire to extend the CVR exercise to Nov. 27, which, they argued, is the end of the 90 days’ period for registration of voters before the 2023 general election.
They argued that the stoppage of the exercise by the electoral body on July 31, more than six months to the general elections, would disenfranchise millions of eligible, and potential voters.

The plaintiffs contended that the action of INEC contravened the clear provisions of Sections 9(6); 10(1) and 12(1) of the Electoral Act 2022, which stipulates a period of 90 days to the next election before the stoppage of the exercise.
They contended further that the stoppage of the continuous voters registration exercise by INEC on July 31, 2022, amounted to disenfranchisement of citizens who have attained or will attain the age of 18 years before Nov. 28.
The plaintiffs posed five questions for determination by the court.

These include: “Whether having regard to the combined provisions of sections 9(6) and 10(1) of the Electoral Act, 2022, which mandates the defendant (INEC), to continue registration of voters up to 90 days to the date of election, the defendant can stop or terminate registration of eligible voters on July 31, 2022, which is more than six months to the next general election scheduled to commence of Feb. 25, 2023?

“Whether having regard to the combined provisions of sections 77(2) and 78 of the 1999 Constitution, section 12(1) of the Electoral Act, 2022, and Article 13(1) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Right, the defendant can refuse or decline to register a citizen of Nigeria who has attained the age of 18 years and presented himself to the defendant for registration before 90 days to the scheduled 2023 general elections?”, among others.

The suit is accompanied by an affidavit of urgency wherein the defendant deposed that several attempts by them to register themselves as eligible voters for the 2023 were without success.

When the matter was called, Igbanoi, who appeared for the plaintiffs, said the business of the day was the hearing of their originating summons.

He said the amended application had been filed and served on the commission.
Umar acknowledged the receipt of the amended application, stating that he had responded with a counter affidavit.

The lawyer, however, said that he was also served with a further and better affidabit the previous day and that he would need to respond.
The judge then asked if a previous judgment on the same matter was exhibited in their applications but Igbanoi responded in the negative.

Ekwo, who said the previous judgment on the related matter needed to be attached to the processes, adjourned the case until Sept. 20 for hearing.(NAN)

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