From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Senior Advocate of Nigeria and human rights activist, Chief Mike Ozekhome, has approached a Federal High Court with a suit seeking an injunctive order compelling the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to extend the continuous voter’s registration to November 27, which is the end of the 90 days period for registration of voters before the 2023 general election.
In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1335/2022, Ozekhome with Abubakar Sani, argued that the stoppage of the continuous voters registration exercise by the electoral body on July 31, 2022, more than six months to the general elections would disenfranchise millions of eligible, and potential voters.
The plaintiffs contented 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 November 28, 2022.
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 February 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?”
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.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.