Ahead of the forthcoming elections, a Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission to accept the nomination of candidates of the Labour Party in 24 states either manually or through its electronic nomination portal.
Delivering judgment in the suits brought before him by the party, Justice Inyang Ekwo held that INEC violated sections 31, 33 and 36 of the Electoral Act 2022 by rejecting the Labour Party’s candidates.
The party had in November 2022 carried out substitution nominations for its candidates who withdrew from the 2023 general election in some states.
The party through its National Chairman and National Secretary communicated the withdrawals to INEC.
The party also gave notification of the October 27 date to conduct substitution nomination primary elections.
However, rather than upload the fresh candidates’ names, INEC claimed that its nomination portal was faulty and declined to accept the candidates list manually.
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The 24 affected states are: Kwara, Plateau, Nasarawa, Lagos, Bayelsa, Oyo, Benue, Bauchi, Akwa Ibom and Ekiti.
Others are Katsina, Kaduna, Niger, Rivers, Sokoto, Ebonyi, Gombe, Borno, Osun, Adamawa and Cross River, among others.
The court held that the evidence of the Labour Party exchanging letters with INEC was credible and proceeded to attach probative value to it and that the Labour Party should not be made to bear the effect of a non-functional electronic nomination portal.
Agreeing with the LP that nomination and submission of candidates list cannot be rejected by INEC until 90 days to the general election, the Justice stated that the time the Labour Party sought to submit a list of its candidates in the 24 states was more than 90 days to the 2023 general election, and thus was within time permissible by law.
Justice Ekwo ordered INEC to open its website to allow the Labour Party to submit a list of its candidates or accept the list manually.