By Raji Olatunji, The ICIR
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A Federal High Court in Abuja has stopped the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from ending the ongoing voter registration exercise on June 30, 2022.
The court presided by Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon on Monday granted an order of interim injunction restraining INEC from implementing its June 30, 2022 deadline for voter registration.
The court granted the order after hearing an ex parte motion by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and 185 concerned Nigerians.
SERAP and the other plaintiffs had moved to restrain INEC from stopping the voter registration exercise after the Commission extended the deadline for the conduct of primaries by political parties by six days.
In the suit FHC/L/CS/1034/2022 which was filed against INEC at the Federal High Court, Lagos and transferred to Abuja, SERAP asked the court to declare the voter registration deadline as illegal and unconstitutional.
The group asked the court to “declare unconstitutional, illegal, and incompatible with international standards the failure of the electoral body to extend the deadline for voter registration to allow eligible Nigerians to exercise their rights”.
In the motion on notice filed before the court, SERAP argued, “Enforcing unrealistic voter registration deadlines 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.”
After granting an order of interim injunction restraining INEC from ending voter registration on June 30, the court, presided by Justice Olajuwon, adjourned the suit to June 29, 2022, for hearing of the notion on notice.
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