From Chuks Collins, Awka
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)has on Tuesday, Sept 20,22 failed to file a response to the suit brought by a group, – the Peter Obi Support Network (POSN) over the abrupt stoppage of Voter Registration ahead the 2023 General Elections which was contrary to the Electoral Act as amended.
The suit ref FHC/ABJ/CS/1342/2022 filed on behalf of members of the Network by Ikechukwu Ezechukwu (SAN) & Co law firm, had frowned at the abrupt termination of the voter registration exercise. They had noted that it would disenfranchise millions of eligible voters across the nation during the coming 2023 presidential election.
It therefore seeks, among other reliefs, an order to compel INEC to reverse its earlier directive halting the CVR exercise across the country on July 31, 2022.
And to declare as ultra vires the commission’s decision to put a timeline on the CVR exercise outside the timeline expressly provided by the 2022 Electoral Act, as amended.
In addition, 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 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.”
However, at the commencement of hearing on Tuesday, Sept 20,2022, INEC pleaded with the Court for a 24-hour opportunity to file its response to the suit.
The court therefore granted the request and adjourned till October 4, 2022.
The Peter Obi Support Network had filed the suit on August 4th, 2022 before a Federal High Court in Abuja when its appeals to INEC to allow Nigerian citizens more time to register their names for the coming 2023 general elections, till at least 90days to the election in view of reported widespread logistical problems encountered at various registration centers across the country, was ignored by INEC.