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INEC Must Follow Due Process To Conduct Elections In IDP Camps -Group Tells Court

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The Forum for Transparency and Integrity in Leadership and a lawyer Samuel Adeniji have asked the Federal High Court in Lagos to determine whether the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) can allow internally displaced persons (IDPs) to vote without complying with the law on voter registration.

The Group urged the court to determine whether INEC had the power to conduct the 2019 election in IDP camps without compiling and maintaining a register of voters in respect of eligible voters in the local government areas of origin of the IDPs in question.

The plaintiffs wanted the court to hold that IDPs could only vote when they comply with the provision of the Electoral Act by applying to the Resident Electoral Commissioner of the respective states in which the IDP camps are located.

They sought a declaration that it would be unconstitutional and illegal for INEC to carry out elections in IDP camps without first complying with the 1999 Constitution and the Electoral Act 2010 by compiling and maintaining as part of the national register of voters the names of all persons entitled to vote in each IDP camp.

The plaintiffs, through their lawyer, Lekan Idowu of Edgewise Solicitors, prayed for a declaration that they were entitled to view and inspect the voters register, if any, which INEC intended to use in the IDP camps.

They also prayed the court to declare that it would be unconstitutional and illegal for INEC to conduct elections in IDP camps located in the Niger Republic and the Chad Republic or in any other country or place outside Nigeria.

According to them, the INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu had announced that IDPs in those countries “who left their abodes due to insurgency in the Northeast would not be denied their voting rights”.

The plaintiffs sought an order of perpetual injunction restraining INEC from conducting any election during the forthcoming general elections in any of the IDP camps without having first complied with the 1999 Constitution as amended and the Electoral Act with regards to having the names of IDPs on the national voters register.

Additionally, they prayed the court for an injunction restraining INEC from allowing any voting in an IDP camp outside Nigeria. 

In a supporting affidavit, Adeniji, a lawyer and member of the forum, recalled that INEC recently announced that it would conduct elections in IDP camps in the general elections to be held in February and March.

The deponent said that the IDP camps were scattered in different locations in the Northeast and Abuja, adding that he was not aware that INEC had so far enumerated the specific local government areas the IDPs were originally located.

Adeniji said he was also not aware that the individuals who now reside in the IDP camps applied to be registered or to transfer their registration from their original places of abode to their new locations.

“I believe that it is in the interest of justice that the reliefs in the originating summons are granted,” he said.

The originating summons were brought pursuant to Section 153, Paragraph 15 (A) and (E) of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution (as amended); sections 9, 10 and 13 of Electoral Act No 6 of 2010, Order 3, Rule 1 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2009 and under the inherent powers of the honourable court.

The suit is however, yet to be heard.

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