Abuja Feb. 15, 2023 (NAN) Ahead of the Feb. 25 presidential election, two Nigerians approached the Federal High Court, Abuja on Wednesday asking the court to compel the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to allow the use of Temporary Voter Cards, (TVC).
The plaintiffs are praying the court to allow registered voters who were unable to get their Permanent Voter Cards (PVC) from INEC to participate in the general elections using their TVC.
The two plaintiffs in a fresh suit predicated their argument on the grounds that have been fully registered and all relevant information uploaded into the database of INEC, they should not be prevented from exercising their civic responsibility.
The plaintiffs Mr Kofoworola Olusegun and Mr Wilson Allwell in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/180/2023, are asking the court to determine whether by the true construction and interpretation of section 10(2), 12(1) and 47 of the Electoral Act 2022; Section 77(2) and 132(5) of the 1999 constitution and bearing in mind that the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) machine introduced by the defendant only needs the thumbprint and/or facial recognition to accredit a voter.
“Whether a person whose name appears in the electronic format in the Defendant’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 (VIN), can be said to be entitled to be accredited to vote with his/her Temporary Voter’s Card, in the forthcoming General Election to be conducted by the Defendant.
“Whether by the true construction and interpretation of section 10(2), 12(1) and 47 of the Electoral Act 2022; Section 77(2) and 132(5) of the 1999 constitution (as amended) the plaintiffs, bearing in mind that the BVAS Machine introduced by the INEC only needs the thumbprint and/or facial recognition to accredit a person whose name appears in its 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 (VIN);
“Whether such a person can as a consequence of the defendant’s inabilities, actions and omission be disenfranchised of the right and entitlement to vote in the forthcoming 2023 general election.
The plaintiffs prayed the court to grant the following reliefs should the questions formulated be answered in their favour.
“A declaration that the plaintiffs, having fulfilled all necessary legal requirements to register and having consequently been captured in its central database and manual, printed paper-based record or hard copy format of INEC’s maintained register of voters, the plaintiff is entitled to vote using their Temporary Voter’s Card in the forthcoming 2023 General Election.
“An order compelling INEC to allow the plaintiffs to vote using their temporary voter’s card, issued by the defendant, the plaintiff having been duly captured in the National Register of Voter’s database.
“Any other order, the court may deem fit for all other Nigerians who are like the plaintiffs and have not gotten their permanent voter’s card, as the court may deem fit.
Mr Victor Opatola, counsel to the plaintiffs, in support of the originating summons filed an affidavit of urgency praying the court to abridge time due to the closeness of the election which comes up on Feb. 25.
At the resumed hearing of the matter, Opatola moved a motion to abridge time in which INEC could file their counter affidavit to the originating summons.
The court, however, refused the application.
The court held that the originating summons filed by the plaintiffs should be served on the defendant.
The matter was adjourned until Feb. 20 for INEC to file its counter-affidavit and other necessary processes.
Meanwhile, in the plaintiff’s statement of facts, they claimed that they were
citizens of Nigeria, who had been registered in the central database and been assigned Voters Identification Numbers (VIN).
“After the plaintiffs have fulfilled all legal requirements of registration, and their names contained in the central database, the defendant has neglected to issue them their voter’s card even after several attempts were made by the plaintiffs to get their Permanent Voter’s Card.
“Consequently, the time frame given by INEC for the collection of Voter’s Card lapsed on Feb. 5.
“The plaintiffs will be disenfranchised, due to no fault of theirs, and precluded from voting in the forthcoming general elections.
“That INEC has closed the collection of Permanent Voter’s Card and stopped its distribution nationwide,” they said.