The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has announced that it will appeal a court ruling ordering the commission to accept the use of Temporary Voter Cards (TVCs) in this year’s general elections.
In a tweet via the verified address @inecnigeria, the Commission said “INEC has been served a copy of the judgment delivered today (yesterday) by the Federal High Court, Abuja Division, which ordered it to allow two plaintiffs to vote with their Temporary Voter’s Card (TVC).
“The commission is taking immediate steps to appeal against the judgment of the trial court.”
The Federal High Court in Abuja ordered INEC to allow the use of TVCs in the March 18 gubernatorial and state house elections.
Judge Obiora Egwuatu delivered judgment yesterday after ruling on a lawsuit filed by two Nigerians seeking the use of TVCs in the absence of permanent voter cards (PVCs) in this year’s general election.
Justice Egwuatu said the order was made on the grounds that the plaintiffs were duly registered and captured in INEC’s database.
“An order is made compelling the defendant (INEC) to allow the plaintiffs to vote, using their Temporary Voter Cards issued by the defendant, the plaintiffs having been duly captured in the National Register of Voter’s database.
“A declaration is made by this court that the plaintiffs, having fulfilled all necessary legal requirements to register and having consequently been captured in the defendant’s (INEC’s) central database and manual, printed paper-based record or hard copy format of the defendant’s maintained Register of Voters, the plaintiffs are entitled to vote using their Temporary Voter’s Cards in the forthcoming 2023 general election,” he said.
The judge said he was unable to grant Prayer Three, which was to allow every eligible voter with a TVC to vote because the suit was not filed in a representative capacity.
“This suit, having not been brought in a representative capacity, I find myself unable to grant any relief pursuant to prayer three of the plaintiffs’ application,” Justice Aneke said.
The court also held that there was no portion of the law, including the 1999 Constitution and the Electoral Act, that states that it is only the PVCs that could be used.
He added that the law under Section 47 provides for a voter’s card, the News Agency of Nigeria reports.
Addressing reporters, counsel to the plaintiffs, Mr Victor Opatola said the judgment was a victory for all Nigerians who suffered to get registered to vote, was duly registered, but due to no fault of theirs, could not get their PVCs before the election.
Also, INEC is to immediately begin the reconfiguration of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) in readiness for the governorship and Houses of Assembly election now scheduled to hold on March 18.
The election, which was initially scheduled to hold tomorrow, was postponed to allow the electoral umpire to have sufficient time to reconfigure the machines.
The commission had said the BVAS could only be activated on the specific date and time of an election and that having been used for the Presidential and National Assembly elections on February 25, it became necessary to reconfigure the machines for activation on the date of the governorship and House of Assembly election.
It explained that while the ruling of the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal makes it possible for the commission to begin the preparation of the BVAS for the governorship and House of Assembly election, it was far too late for the reconfiguration to be concluded.
But Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Rotimi Oyekunmi, told The Nation that the reconfiguration of the machines would start in earnest and be completed ahead of time for the governorship and House of Assembly election.
When our reporter asked him when the exercise would start, Oyekunmi said:
“Let me not tell you when we will start the reconfiguration of the machines. But I can tell you that it will take at least three days to complete the process.
“The process will be completed well ahead of time for the election. It was in other to avoid the pressure of hurried reconfiguration that we decided to shift the same elections by one week.”
Some National Assembly elections that were rescheduled for March 11 will also hold on March 18.
cc: The Nations Ng