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7 million Nigerians sue INEC over incomplete voter registration

As many as 24 Nigerians have filed a lawsuit against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for “failing to give them and seven other million Nigerians enough time and opportunity to complete their registration on the electoral rolls after completing their online registration”.
The plaintiffs, who are suing for themselves and on behalf of seven million other Nigerians, want to ‘complete the registration process, so that they can obtain their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) and exercise their right to vote ” in 2023.
INEC recently revealed that out of 10,487,972 Nigerians who pre-registered online, only 3,444,378 completed the process at a physical center.
This represents only 32.8% of completed online registrations.
But in lawsuit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1662/2022 filed last Friday in the Federal High Court in Abuja, the plaintiffs seek “an order of mandamus to direct and compel INEC to reactivate its continued registration on the voters”. exercise to allow applicants to complete their registration and collect their permanent voter cards (PVC). »
The plaintiffs also seek “an order of mandamus to direct and compel the INEC to provide adequate facilities and to deploy personnel to the plaintiffs’ registration units to enable them to complete their registration and collect their PVCs.”
The applicants claim that “we have completed the online registration exercise. Depriving us of the time and opportunity to complete registration for our PVCs would infringe our right to vote and deprive us of a voice in the 2023 election.”
Plaintiffs also argue that “the inability to complete our registration is entirely due to factors beyond our control. We are eligible Nigerians, but unless we are given a reasonable time and opportunity to complete the registration process and obtain our voter cards, we will not be able to vote in the 2023 general election.”
The 24 Nigerians include: Adeeyo Bayo Wasiu; Kunat Tychius Amos; Tagbo Philips Chidubem; Grace Emeghe Uchanma; Ayola Opeyemi Ebenezer; Eche Onah Otakpa; Olatoye Clement Damilola; and Ogunejio for Raphael Emeka.
Others include: Adedotun Adegoke Babatunde; Emmanuel Promise Tochukwu; Emmanuel Ternajev; Joy Oluwadamilola Ige; Lawrence Ignatius; Agbede Kunle; Eze Daniel Ndubuisi; and Nkemdilim Agbor Bassey.
The others are: Omoike Iredia Oseine; Joshua Patrick Ogenekaro; Wisdom Emeka; Ukpe Victor Destiny; Abayomi Opeoluwa; Ndubuisi Anthony Ahanihu; Akande Akintunde O.; and Adamma Rhodes.
The lawsuit brought on behalf of plaintiffs by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Ms. Adelanke Aremo reads in part: “Closing doors to eligible Nigerians cannot preserve trust in the electoral process.
“According to reports, the inability of Nigerians to complete their voter registration exercise or even transfer their permanent voter cards, has affected a wide range of people, hence this class action lawsuit by the plaintiffs identified on behalf of other concerned Nigerians.
“There have been reports of incidences of corruption, unethical conduct by INEC staff, flawed registration process, insufficient machinery, malfunctioning machinery, staff insufficient and unqualified personnel, before the respondent terminated the continuous voter registration exercise on July 31, 2022. .
“The right to vote is not only the right to vote, but also the right to have the time and opportunity to complete the registration process, so that this right can be exercised meaningfully and effectively.
“All the justifications offered to save time and money are therefore totally insufficient. Administrative convenience is simply not a convincing justification given the fundamental nature of the right to vote.
“This severe vote deprivation cannot be justified by any perceived time-saving consideration, particularly because section 9(6) of the Elections Act 2022 provides that “voter registration, updating and the revision of the register of electors must not stop later than 90 days before any election covered by this law.’
“Providing a new opportunity for the Complainants and seven million other Nigerians to complete their registration would promote and preserve the right to vote, and ensure that lawful and eligible voters are not inadvertently and unjustifiably diverted from exercising their right to vote. their fundamental right to vote.
“The Complainants are Nigerians who started the voter registration exercises in their respective states through successful online registration on the respective dates but were unable to complete the registration process and obtain their voter cards.
“Complainants also include those who wish to transfer their permanent voter card to another location so that they can vote.
“Applicants and other eligible Nigerians are entitled to equal treatment before the law, equal protection, non-discrimination and equal opportunity to participate in the government of Nigeria.
“By denying the Complainants and seven million other Nigerians the opportunity to complete the registration of their PVCs, the INEC has unjustly, unreasonably and unjustifiably denied them the opportunity to be heard at a meaningful time and in a meaningful way as to to the reasons for not completing their registration.
“The Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended) provides in article 14(1)(c) that “the participation of the people in their government shall be ensured in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution”.
“Similarly, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance guarantee the right to political participation, including the right to vote.
“The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) recently revealed that more than seven million Nigerians who pre-registered to vote online were unable to complete the process at physical centres.
“According to a report released by INEC, out of 10,487,972 Nigerians who completed their pre-registration online, only 3,444,378 Nigerians representing 32.8% completed the process at a physical center. 7,043,594 Nigerians have pre-registered but have yet to complete the process at a physical center.
“This represents over 67% of those who started their registration process online. According to INEC, a total of 12,298,944 Nigerians have completed their voter registration; including 8,854,566 people who registered entirely in a physical centre.
“The applicants and seven million other Nigerians have already completed their registration online i.e. through the INEC online portal by providing their biological data and required documents.
“According to INEC, the remaining process for applicants to complete their PVC registration is to visit INEC-designated centers to have their biometrics entered.”
No date has been set for the hearing of the lawsuit.