INEC Appeals High Court’s Judgement On Usage Of Temporary Voter Cards

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has asked the Court of Appeal in Abuja to set aside the judgement of the Federal High Court concerning the usage of Temporary Voter Cards (TVC) during election.

The High Court had in its March 9 judgement ordered INEC to allow electorates to vote during the governorship election with TVCs.

It would be recalled that Justice Obiora Egwuatu of the Federal high court had in his judgement, ordered INEC to allow two aggrieved registered voters, Kofoworola Olusegun and Wilson Allwell, to participate in the elections with their TVCs.

The duo bemoaned that despite their effort and repeated visits to the INEC office, they were unable to obtain their PVCs, before February 6 which the electoral body fixed as the deadline for collection of the cards.

The trial court held that evidence before it established that the plaintiffs were duly registered with their details captured in INEC’s database.

It therefore, issued an order compelling INEC to allow them to vote during the governorship polls with their TVC issued by the electoral body, having been duly captured in the National Register of Voters database.

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Howbeit, the Commission approached the appellate court to request an order of injunction against the execution of the judgement delivered on March 9, directing them to allow the plaintiffs use their Temporary Voter Cards, “in lieu of the Permanent Voter Cards, for the 2023 general elections,” pending the determination of its appeal.

The Commission in its three grounds of appeal held that the Federal High Court Abuja erred in its judgement by dismissing INEC’s position against the use of TVC because it would kick against the powers of the National Assembly under Item II of the concurrent legislative list.

The electoral body further condemned the High Court’s judgement that said Permanent Voter Cards (PVC) were either mentioned in the Constitution or the Electoral Act as a condition to allow electorates votes.

It faulted the trial court for upholding that PVC was not mentioned either as the only means of voting and that the law says voters are entitled to be verified, accredited and to vote.

INEC said, “By combined provision of Section 47 (1) & (2) of the Electoral Act 2022 and Paragraph 5(IV) of INEC Regulations & Guidelines for the conduct of elections 2022, a person is eligible to vote at an election conducted by the Commission if he or she presents a valid PVC at the polling unit in which he is registered as a voter.”

The commission as well argued that by virtue of section 18(3) of the Electoral Act 2022, “the intendment of the lawmakers is clear for the effect that a PVC is the only valid instrument for voter accreditation at the polling unit with the use of BVAS machine in elections”

However, the electoral umpire added that the whole essence of the Manual & Guidelines was defeated by the decision of the trial court when it embarked on judicial legislation and jettisoned the relevance and import of the said Manual & Guidelines which prescribed in detail, accreditation and voting procedure with the exclusive use of PVCs.