Contrary to reports making the rounds that the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Tuesday, ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to resume the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise, The Matrix has gathered that the judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo, in its ruling said he could not make such an order with the elections just a few days ahead.
Earlier today reports emerged that Justice Ekwo had ordered INEC to resume the CVR immediately until 90 days before the election, a deadline which will elapse on Saturday, four (4) days from now.
This had elicited mixed reactions from many quarters with many saying that INEC only have 4 days to comply with the order.
Now, The Matrix has gathered that Justice Ekwo, in its ruling did not order INEC to resume the CVR immediately because the elections were just a few days ahead (94 days)
The judge, however, declared that INEC “is expected… to continue voters registration, update and revision of voters register until 90 days before the General Election billed to take place on 25 February and 11 March.”
“It is the constitutional responsibility of the defendant (INEC) to make sure that every prospective Nigeria voter who has shown the desire to register to vote is not deprived of their civil right to register and participate in the forthcoming general elections scheduled to take place on 25th February 2023 and 11th March 2023,” the judge said.
According to Mr Ekwo, “this court is unable to grant relief number 3 of the plaintiffs because going by the date of this judgement, from the date of this judgement, the defendant will have just a few days away from 90 days before the general elections of 25th February 2023 and 11th March 2023.”
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that four plaintiffs; Anajat Salmat, Mr Earnest Stanley, Chief Charles Okafor and Mr Samuel Oluwakemi had sued INEC for discontinuing the voter registration exercise on July 31.
INEC was the sole defendant in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1343/2022.
The plaintiffs had prayed to the court for three reliefs which include “a declaration that the defendant is expected pursuant to the provisions of Sections 76 (2), 77 (2), 116 (2), 117 (2), 132 (2) & (5) and 178 (2) & (5) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) as well as Sections 9 (1), 9 (6), 10 (1) and 12 (1) of the Electoral Acts, 2022, to continue voters registration, update and revision of voters register till 90 days before the general election.
“A declaration that it is the constitutional responsibility of the defendant to make sure that every prospective Nigerian voter who has shown the desire to register to vote is not deprived of their civil right to register and participate in the forthcoming general elections.
“An order of the court directing the defendant to resume immediately the registration of new voters, updating and revision of the register of voters until at least 90 days to the general election slated to hold on 5th February 2023 and 11th March 2023.”
Delivering the judgment, the judge said: “The case of the plaintiffs, therefore, succeeds on the merit and I answer their sole question in the negative.
“I also answer the questions of the defendant as follows:
“Question 1, partially in the positive, and Question 2, in the positive. “
NAN reports that INEC, in its argument, had said that it ended the CVR exercise at the time it did because it needed to end the exercise so that the permanent voters’ cards (PVCs) could be printed in good time, and the distribution of same could commence in earnest.