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UPN sues INEC over omission of candidates’ names



PRESIDENTIAL candidate of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), Mrs. Helen Godswill, and others have filed a suit at a Federal High Court, Lagos, against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over its alleged failure to publish their names as contestants in the coming general elections.

   In a motion experte before Justice Okon Abang, Godswill, alongside 15 others contesting for various political posts on the platform of UPN, accused INEC of omitting their names even though they had fulfilled all requirements for such contest.

   Therefore, they are seeking “an order directing the defendant to list and publish the second to 17th applicants’ names as candidates of the first applicant (UPN) contesting for the presidential, National Assembly and House of Assembly positions in the general election scheduled to hold on the March 28, 2015 and April 11, 2015.‎

   When the matter was called on Friday, the applicants’ counsel, Akinwale Ekunnusi, informed the court that had submitted their names, forms and credentials to INEC through their party, yet their names were not published by electoral body.

   “UPN submitted their documents to INEC with credentials but when INEC released names of candidates of all parties for election, that of UPN candidates were not released,” Ekunnusi stated. “We urge the court to grant the application as a matter of urgency because the election date is March 28 and the right of the applicants have been trampled on.”

   Asked why the case was not filed earlier, Ekunnusi told court that several meetings were held between the parties to resolve the issue but since they could not reach an agreement, coupled with the strike by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), the plaintiffs decided to seek redress.

   In his bench ruling, however, Justice Abang said the applicants ought to have filed a motion on notice before the motion exparte so as to inform the defendant of the matter in court and give it opportunity to defend itself. He further held that though the application was a matter of urgency, there was need to give the defendant fair hearing.

   “It is my view that the applicants submitted their names to INEC as candidates on the platform of UPN but INEC did not publish their names. It (INEC) has no justification not to publish their names,” he said. “However, the court needs to hear from the defendants if the act was a mistake or intentional.”

Consequently, he ordered that “by Order 26, Rule 10 of the Federal High Court, the applicants’ motion exparte should be changed to motion on notice and INEC should be served on or before March 9, 2015. He subsequently adjourned the matter till March 12.

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