A Federal High Court in Abuja has granted an order barring the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from ending voter registration on 30 June 2022.
This was followed by a lawsuit filed by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP). The group, alongside 185 concerned Nigerians had filed the lawsuit against INEC, seeking an order compelling the commission to the court to extend the deadline for voter registration to allow eligible Nigerians to exercise their rights.
In his judgment, Honourable Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon, gave an interim injunction following the hearing of an argument on motion exparte by SERAP.
Justice Olajuwon subsequently adjourned the matter to 29th June 2022 for the hearing of the Motion on Notice for interlocutory injunction.
It would be recalled that SERAP in the suit marked FHC/L/CS/1034/2022 filed at the Federal High Court, Lagos, and transferred to Abuja, is asking the court to determine “whether the failure of INEC to extend the deadline for voter registration is not a violation of Nigerian Constitution, 1999 [as amended], the Electoral Act, and international standards.”
SERAP is asking the court for “a declaration that the failure of INEC to extend the deadline for voter registration is a violation of eligible Nigerians’ rights to participate freely in their own government, equality and equal protection.”
SERAP is also asking the court for “an order of mandamus to direct and compel INEC to extend voter registration by a minimum of three months and take effective measures to ensure that eligible Nigerians are able to register to exercise their right to vote in the 2023 general elections.”
The suit, read in part: “Enforcing unrealistic voter registration deadline while extending the deadline for party primaries would deny and abridge the constitutional and international human rights of eligible voters.”
“INEC mandates ought to be exercised in a fair, just and non-discriminatory manner. The extension of voter registration would ensure that Nigerian voters are treated equally and fairly. The future of Nigeria’s democracy depends on it.”
“Voters are also critical stakeholders in the electoral process. Treating all eligible Nigerian voters fairly would advance the people’s right to vote and to participate in their own government.”
“INEC must not only be independent and impartial in the exercise of its constitutional and statutory responsibilities, but must also be seen to be independent and impartial.”
“Extending the voter registration exercise would also bolster voter confidence in the electoral process.”
“One of the people’s most sacred rights is the right to vote. The commission has a constitutional and statutory responsibility to ensure the effective exercise of the right of all eligible voters to participate in their own government.”
“Extending the deadline for party primaries without providing adequate time and opportunity for eligible voters to register and participate in the 2023 general elections would amount to an unfair and discriminatory treatment of Nigerian voters, and violate other human rights.”
“Extending the voter registration deadline would provide more time for eligible voters, including young people, the elderly, people living with disability, as well as those resident in states facing security challenges and living in IDP camps to participate in the 2023 elections.”
“Extending the deadline for voter registration would be entirely consistent with constitutional and international standards, and the Electoral Act. Any such extension would also not impact negatively on INEC’s election calendar and activities.”
“The public perception of the independence and impartiality of INEC is essential for building public confidence in the electoral process, and ensuring the credibility and legitimacy of the 2023 elections.”