Twenty-four Nigerians have filed a lawsuit against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for not giving seven million Nigerians adequate time and opportunity to complete their voter registration despite initiating the process online.
Kolawole Oluwadare, Deputy Director of the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), revealed details of the lawsuit in a statement on Sunday.
Adeeyo Bayo Wasiu, Kunat Tychius Amos, Tagbo Philips Chidubem, Emeghe Uchanma Grace, Ayoola Opeyemi Ebenezer, Eche Onah Otakpa, Olatoye Clement Damilola and Ogunejiofor Raphael Emeka were among the 24 who filed the lawsuit.
Others were Adedotun Adegoke Babatunde, Emmanuel Promise Tochukwu, Emmanuel Ternajev, Joy Oluwadamilola Ige, Lawerence Ignatius, Agbede Kunle, Eze Daniel Ndubisi, and Nkemdilim Agbor Bassey, Omoike Iredia Oseine, Joshua Patrick Ogenekaro, Wisdom Emeka, Ukpe Victor Destiny, Abayomi Opeoluwa, Ndubuisi Anthony Ahanihu, Akande Akintunde O and Adamma Rhodes.
The 24 plaintiffs filed the lawsuit against INEC on behalf of the seven million Nigerians affected (including themselves). They want to “complete the registration process, so that they can obtain their permanent voter cards (PVCs) and exercise their right to vote”.
Oluwadare and Adelanke Aremo, SERAP lawyers, helped the plaintiffs file the lawsuit.
In the suit, number FHC/ABJ/CS/1662/2022, filed at the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Friday, 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 permanent voters’ cards (PVCs)”.
They also seek to get “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”.
According to the 24 plaintiffs, denying them enough time and opportunity to complete the registration for their PVCs would impair their right to vote in the 2023 elections. They argued that they had done their online registration but INEC failed to give them the time to complete the process at a physical centre.
“The inability to complete our registration is entirely due to factors outside of our control,” the plaintiffs said.
“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 elections.
“Closing the gates on eligible Nigerians cannot preserve trust in the electoral process.”
The plaintiffs also pointed out reports of challenges and malpractices during INEC’s continuous voter registration exercise.
“There were reports of incidence of bribery, unethical conducts of INEC staff, registration process marred by irregularities, insufficient machines, malfunctioning machines, insufficient staff and unskilled staff, before the defendant ended the continuous voter registration exercise on the 31st July, 2022,” the suit read.
“The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) recently disclosed that over seven million Nigerians who carried out their voter pre-registration online could not complete the process at physical centres.”
INEC recently disclosed that out of the 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.
The plaintiffs want INEC to provide a fresh opportunity for them and other Nigerians affected to complete their registration.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.
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