Federal High Court in Abuja has stopped the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from ending voter registration on 30 June 2022.
Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon (Court 10) on Monday granted an order of interim injunction following the hearing of an argument on motion exparte by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).
SERAP and 185 concerned Nigerians had earlier this month filed a lawsuit against INEC asking the court to “declare unconstitutional, illegal, and incompatible with international standards the failure of the electoral body to extend the deadline for voter registration to allow eligible Nigerians to exercise their rights.”
In the suit, SERAP had asked the court for “an order restraining INEC, its agents, privies, assigns, or any other person(s) claiming through it from discontinuing the continuous voters’ registration exercise from the 30th June 2022 or any other date pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.”
The suit was adjourned to 29th June 2022 for the hearing of the Motion on Notice for interlocutory injunction.
The suit followed the decision by INEC to extend the deadline for the conduct of primaries by political parties by six days, from June 3 to June 9. But the commission failed to also extend the online pre-registration which ended May 30 2022 and the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) ending 30 June 2022.
In the suit number FHC/L/CS/1034/2022 filed at the Federal High Court, Lagos, and transferred to Abuja, SERAP is asking the court to determine “whether the failure of INEC to extend the deadline for voter registration is not a violation of the Nigerian Constitution, 1999 [as amended], the Electoral Act, and international standards.”
SERAP is asking the court for “a declaration that the failure of INEC to extend the deadline for voter registration is a violation of eligible Nigerians’ rights to participate freely in their government, equality, and equal protection.”
SERAP is also asking the court for “an order of mandamus to direct and compel INEC to extend voter registration by a minimum of three months and take effective measures to ensure that eligible Nigerians can register to exercise their right to vote in the 2023 general elections.”
The group argued in the suit, that “Enforcing unrealistic voter registration deadline while extending the deadline for party primaries would deny and abridge the constitutional and international human rights of eligible voters.”
“INEC mandates ought to be exercised in a fair, just, and non-discriminatory manner. The extension of voter registration would ensure that Nigerian voters are treated equally and fairly. The future of Nigeria’s democracy depends on it.
“Extending the voter registration exercise would also bolster voter confidence in the electoral process.”
It also noted that “Extending the voter registration deadline would provide more time for eligible voters, including young people, the elderly, people living with disability, as well as that residents in states facing security challenges and living in IDP camps to participate in the 2023 elections.
“Extending the deadline for voter registration would be entirely consistent with constitutional and international standards, and the Electoral Act. Any such extension would also not impact negatively on INEC’s election calendar and activities.”
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