Twenty-four Nigerians have filed a lawsuit against the Independent National Electoral Commission for “failing to give them and other seven million Nigerians adequate time and opportunity to complete their voter registration after they have carried out their registration online.”
According to a statement by the Deputy Director, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, Kolade Oludare, Sunday, 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, and exercise their right to vote.”
INEC recently disclosed that out of 10,487,972 Nigerians, who carried out their pre-registration online, only 3,444,378 completed the process at a physical centre. This represents just 32.8 percent of completed online registration.
But in the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1662/2022 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court, Abuja, the plaintiffs are seeking “an order of mandamus to direct and compel INEC to re-activate its continuous voters registration exercise to allow the plaintiffs to complete their registration and collect their PVCs.”
The plaintiffs are also seeking “an order of mandamus to direct and compel INEC to provide adequate facilities and deploy personnel to the registration units of the plaintiffs to enable them complete their registration and collect their PVCs.”
The Plaintiffs are arguing that, “We have completed the online registration exercise. Denying us the time and opportunity to complete the registration for our PVCs would impair our right to vote, and deny us a voice in the 2023 elections.”
The Plaintiffs are also arguing that, “The inability to complete our registration is entirely due to factors outside of 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 twenty-four Nigerians include: Adeeyo Wasiu; Kunat Amos; Tagbo Chidubem; Emeghe Grace; Ayoola Ebenezer; Eche Otakpa; Olatoye Damilola; and Ogunejiofor Emeka.
Others include: Adedotun Babatunde; Emmanuel Tochukwu; Emmanuel Ternajev; Joy Ige; Lawerence Ignatius; Agbede Kunle; Eze Ndubisi; and Nkemdilim Bassey.
Others are: Omoike Oseine; Joshua Ogenekaro; Wisdom Emeka; Ukpe Destiny; Abayomi Opeoluwa; Ndubuisi Ahanihu; Akande Akintunde O; and Adamma Rhodes.
The suit filed on behalf of the Plaintiffs by lawyers to Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), Kolawole Oluwadare and Ms Adelanke Aremo, read in part: “Closing the gates on eligible Nigerians cannot preserve trust in the electoral process.”
“According to reports, the inability of Nigerians to complete their voters registration exercise or even transfer their permanent voters’ card, affected wide spectrums of persons, hence this class action by the identified plaintiffs on behalf of other affected Nigerians.”
“There were reports of incidence of bribery, unethical conducts of INEC staff, registration process marred by irregularities, insufficient machines, malfunctioning of machines, insufficient staff and unskilled staff, before the defendant ended the Continuous Voters Registration Exercise on the 31st July, 2022.”
“The right to vote is not merely the right to cast a ballot but also the right to be given the time and opportunity to complete the registration process, so that the right can be meaningfully and effectively exercised.”
“Any proffered justifications of saving time and cost are therefore wholly insufficient. Administrative convenience is simply not a compelling justification in light of the fundamental nature of the right to vote.”