INEC faults judgment permitting Temporary Voter Card for polls

The Independent National Electoral Commission on Thursday night said it would appeal the court judgment, which ordered that two Nigerians with Temporary Voters Cards should be allowed to vote during the March 18, 2023 governorship and Houses of Assembly elections.The spokesperson for INEC Chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, made this known on Thursday.

He said, “The Independent National Electoral Commission has been served a copy of the judgement delivered today by the Federal High Court, Abuja Division, which ordered it to allow two plantiffs to vote with their Temporary Voter Cards. The commission is taking immediate steps to appeal against the judgement of the trial court.”

The PUNCH reports that the Federal High Court in Abuja, on Thursday, ordered INEC to allow the use of Temporary Voter Cards in the governorship and Houses of Assembly elections rescheduled ror March 18.Justice Obiora Egwuatu made the order while delivering judgment on a suit filed by two aggrieved Nigerians, Kofoworola Olusegun and Wilson Allwell, who prayed that they should be allowed to vote with their TVCs, as INEC failed to issue them with their Permanent Voter Cards before it closed the process.

Justice Egwuatu said the order was made on the grounds that the plaintiffs were duly registered and captured in INEC database.The court held that there was no portion of both the 1999 Constitution and the Electoral Act, that states that it is only Permanent Voter Cards that could be used to vote.

“An order is made compelling the defendant to allow the plaintiffs to vote using their Temporary Voter Cards issued by the defendant, the plaintiffs having been duly captured in the National Register of Voter’s database.

“A declaration is made by this court that the plaintiffs, having fulfilled all necessary legal requirements to register and having consequently been captured in the defendant’s central database and manual, printed paper-based record or hard copy format of the defendant’s maintained Register of Voters, the plaintiffs are entitled to vote using their Temporary Voter Cards in the forthcoming 2023 general elections,” the judge said.

The judge however, said he was unable to grant the third prayer by the plaintiffs, which was to allow the order to extend to every eligible voter, who was unable to change their TVC to PVC.

“This suit having not been brought in a representative capacity, I find myself unable to grant any relief pursuant to prayer three of the plaintiffs application,” the judge said.Speaking to newsmen, counsel for the plaintiffs, Mr Victor Opatola, said the judgment was a win for all Nigerians who suffered to get registered to vote, were duly registered but, due to no fault of theirs, could not get their PVCs before the election.

Opatola said, “Since my clients had fulfilled all necessary requirements by law but were not issued their PVCs until the time for collection of PVCs was over, they should not be allowed to suffer.

“So, what the court is saying is that these two people who have fulfilled all necessary requirements can vote with their TVCs. By law of equity, it should also apply to all Nigerians who have fulfilled all necessary requirements and were issued TVCs by INEC.”

He maintained that this should be so because the content of the TVC was the same as the content of the PVC and the only difference was the plastic used for the PVC.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the judgment, having been delivered, is biding on INEC and is enforceable barring any appeal.NAN also reports that INEC had repeatedly held that only eligible voters with the PVCs would be allowed to vote in the 2023 presidential, governorship and parliamentary elections.

However, the plaintiffs, in the suit filed marked FHC/ABJ/CS/180/2023, challenged the position of INEC and asked the court to determine “whether a person whose name appears in the electronic format in INEC’s central database and manual, printed paper-based record or hard copy format of the register of voters and has been assigned a Voter’s Identification Number, can, as a consequence of the defendant’s inabilities, actions and omission, be disenfranchised of the right and entitlement to vote in the 2023 general elections.”

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