Court Stops INEC’s Plan To End Voter Registration June 30
The Federal High Court in Abuja has stopped the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from ending voter registration on 30 June 2022.
Honorable Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon (Court 10) today granted an order of interim injunction following the hearing of an argument on motion by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).
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.”
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.”
“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 boost voter confidence in the electoral process.”
“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 residents 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.”
“Where Nigerians have doubts about the independence and impartiality of INEC, they are more likely to have less confidence in the electoral process thereby undermining democracy.”
“Extending the deadline for voter registration would also be justified, given reports of challenges in the voter registration exercise, especially for young people, the elderly, persons living with disabilities, and residents in states facing security challenges and living in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps.”
“The will of the people as expressed through democratic elections. This requires that people should be afforded adequate time and the opportunity to register to vote. Extending the voter registration deadline is crucial for promoting the independence and impartiality of INEC and building public confidence in the electoral process.”
“The Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended) provides in Section 14(1)(c) that, ‘the participation by the people in their government shall be ensured in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.’”
“Section 9(6) of the Electoral Act 2022 provides that ‘the registration of voters, updating and revision of the Register of Voters under this section shall not stop not later than 90 days before any election covered by this Act.’”
“Similarly, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections, and Governance guarantee the right to political participation.”
“These human rights treaties also require state parties including Nigeria to ensure the independence and impartiality of national electoral bodies responsible for the management of elections, as well as to promote the establishment of the necessary conditions to foster citizen participation.”
“The right of people to participate in their government is a fundamental feature of any democratic society, and any undue restriction of the right would strike at the heart of representative government.