The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Thursday, ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission to allow the use of Temporary Voter Cards in the forthcoming governorship and state houses of assembly elections which has been slated for March 18.
Two aggrieved Nigerians had filed a suit seeking the use of the Temporary Voter Card in the general elections in the absence of the Permanent Voter Cards.
The plaintiffs, Kofoworola Olusegun and Wilson Allwell, in the suit filed on February 8 and marked FHC/ABJ/CS/180/2023, challenged the position of INEC and asked the court to determine “whether a person whose name appears in the electronic format in INEC’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 can be said to be entitled to be accredited to vote with his/her TVC in the general election to be conducted by the defendant.”
The plaintiffs further requested the court to determine whether such a person can, as a consequence of INEC’s liabilities… omission be disenfranchised of the right and entitlement to vote in the 2023 general election.
Consequently, they prayed for the following reliefs should the questions be answered in their favour.
They asked for “a declaration that the plaintiff, 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 plaintiffs are entitled to vote using their TVC in the 2023 General Elections”.
Ruling, the court held that there was no portion of the law, both the 1999 Constitution and the Electoral Act that states that it is only PVCs that could be used, but that the law under Section 47 provided for a voter’s card.
Justice Egwuatu stated that the order was made on the grounds that the plaintiffs were duly registered and captured in INEC’s database.
He ruled that, “an order is made compelling the defendant 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 Voters database”.
The judge further held that the plaintiffs are entitled to vote using their TVC in the forthcoming 2023 general election “having fulfilled all necessary legal requirements to register and having consequently been captured in INEC’s central database and manual, printed paper-based record or hard copy format”.
However, prayer 3 which was a request to allow every eligible voter with a TVC to vote was not granted.
“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”
The judge held that the suit was not filed in a representative capacity.
The court maintained that, “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.”
Speaking, counsel for the plaintiffs, Victor Opatola said that the judgement was a win for all Nigerians who suffered to get registered to vote, were duly registered but due to no fault of theirs could not get their PVCs before the election.
He said, “since my clients had fulfilled all necessary requirements by law but were not issued their PVCs until the time for collection of PVCs was over, they should not be allowed to suffer”.
The lawyer also said that it was the law of equity that what applied to the goose should also apply to the gander.
“So what the court is saying is that these two people who have fulfilled all necessary requirements can vote with their TVCs, then by law of equity, it should also apply to all Nigerians who have fulfilled all necessary requirements and were issued TVCs by INEC.”
Furthermore, he asserted that the content of the TVC was the same as the content of the PVC and the only difference was the plastic used for the PVC.
BREAKING NEWS: PDP’s Diri Wins Bayelsa Gov Election
The incumbent Governor of Bayelsa State and governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Douye Diri, has been declared the winner of the State governorship election held last Saturday.
The Returning Officer, Prof Faruq Kuta, who is also the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University Of Technology, Minna, announced Diri winner of the poll at the collation centre of the election on Monday.
Diri polled 175,196 to defeat his closest rival, Timipre Sylva of the All Progressives Congress, who garnered 110,108 votes while the Labour Party polled 905 votes.
Plateau: Protesters Storm S’ Court Over Sack Of Four PDP Members From NASS
Over 1000 protesters, on Monday, besieged the Supreme Court to register their displeasure over the judgment of the Court of Appeal in Abuja, which sacked four members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Plateau State, from the National Assembly, based on a pre-election dispute.
The placard and banner-wielding groups, under the aegis of Coalition for Justice in Africa, CJA, submitted a protest letter to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola.
According to the protesters, the appellate court, by its judgement, thwarted the wish of electorates in Plateau state, when it declared candidates that lost the National Assembly elections that held on February 25, as winners of the legislative seats.
Speaking with newsmen shortly after the protest letter was submitted to the CJN, the National President of the CJA, Dr. Daniel Okwa, maintained that the judgement of the appellate court was capable of causing a breakdown of law and order in the state.
He said the group was at the apex court to seek the intervention of the CJN, alleging that the verdicts that removed all the PDP federal lawmakers were influenced by some chieftains of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.
The protest letter, which was obtained by Vanguard, read in part: “The Coalition for Truth and Justice believes that the judgment of the Appeal Court in Abuja is a case of injustice, else, how could one explain a situation where lawmakers of the All Progressive Congress (APC) would boast and predict the outcome of the Court of Appeal judgment even before the pronouncement.
“This is unacceptable and indicates that the justice regime in Nigeria has been thrown to the dogs. What happened in Plateau State is an aberration of immeasurable proportion. There is a distinction between a pre-election matter and a post-election matter.
“The Supreme Court has established this fact on several occasions. It is now a wonder why the Appeal Court would act otherwise and in a despicable manner that tends to truncate our nascent democracy.
“The Coalition for Truth and Justice entirely condemns the actions of the justices of the Appeal Court that sat in Abuja. They displayed insensitivity to the electoral choices of the people. This is a worrisome trend that the Chief Justice of Nigeria must address.
“This is on the heels that the Judiciary, the world over, is regarded as the last hope of the commoner. This presupposes that it is the only place the commoner can get justice. The function of the Judiciary is not to twist the truth or fabricate facts but to interpret the law. The consequence of the interpretation of the law is justice.
“However, what played out in Plateau state negates the Judiciary’s position as the common’s last hope. The Judiciary is for sale to the highest bidder in Nigeria, if such positions could be taken without recourse to the implication of such on the psychological state of the people.
“The Coalition for Truth and Justice is using this protest to drive the point that justice in Nigeria should not be reserved for a section of the country or any political party. What happened in Plateau should not be allowed to stand or repeat itself. The implication of such is that the reputation of the judicial arm of government would be eroded.”
It will be recalled that the appellate court had on November 7, in a unanimous decision by a three-member panel led by Justice Elfrieda Williams-Dawodu, okayed the nullification of the election of a Senator and three members of the House of Representatives in the state that emerged on the platform of the PDP.
The panel based its decision on failure of the PDP to fully comply with a court that was made in 2022, which it said directed the party to conduct congress in the 17 Local Government Areas in the state.
It, therefore, held that though the lawmakers won their respective seats during the National Assembly election that held on February 25, all the scores that were credited them, amounted to wasted votes.
It ordered that candidates that got the second majority lawful votes at the election, should be sworn in as winners of the legislative seats.
Canada’s Abuja, Lagos Visa Centres Open – High Commission
The Canadian High Commission in Nigeria has said its Abuja and Lagos visa application centres remain open for the processing of immigration, refugee and citizenship applications.
The Canadian High Commission had on Tuesday announced the suspension of operations in its Abuja office following a fire incident at its generator house, which claimed two lives on Monday.
Nigerians had expressed fear that the operations suspension would hamper visa application processes.
But in a statement posted on its X handle on Thursday, the Canadian High Commission clarified that its Abuja and Lagos visa application centres remain open and operational.
In the statement by its public affairs staff, Demilade Kosemani, the commission said, “As we continue to mourn the passing of our dear colleague from the High Commission of Canada in Abuja, please note the following information below:
“Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada clients: processing of applications continues. Regardless of the suspension of operations at the High Commission of Canada in Abuja, the Visa Application Centres in Abuja and Lagos remain open.”
Meanwhile, a travel agency, , TMT Travels and Tours Limited, has sympathised with the Canadian High Commission over the Monday tragic fire incident.
In a statement on Thursday the agency’s Chief Executive Officer, Collins Onukwubiri, said, “We at TMT Travels and Tours Limited shares in the grief and sense of loss of the Canadian embassy in Abuja. The partial burning of the Canadian embassy in Abuja and the death of two workers there was most unfortunate.
“Canada, as a major player in the Nigeria’s travel and tours business, is an integral player in Nigeria’s economy. We know how devastating this unfortunate incident is to them but we want to say that we stand with them in this time and always. We specially condole with the families of the two persons who died in the process.”