2023: Court orders INEC to accept Labour Party’s candidates in 24 states
A Federal High Court in Abuja, yesterday, ordered Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to accept the nomination of Labour Party (LP) candidates in 24 states of the federation for the 2023 general elections.
The court ordered that the electoral body must accept the list of the candidates in the 24 states either manually or through its electronic nomination portal.
Justice Inyang Edem Ekwo, in his judgments in 24 separate suits brought before him by LP, held that INEC violated Sections 31, 33 and 36 of the Electoral Act 2022 in rejecting the party’s candidates in the affected states on the ground of non-functionality of its nomination portal.
The 24 states affected by the court order include Kwara, Plateau, Nasarawa, Lagos, Kaduna, Oyo, Benue, Bauchi, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Katsina, Bayelsa and Cross River States.
The party had, in November, last year, conducted substitution nomination for its candidates who withdrew from the 2023 general elections in the affected states.
The withdrawals were communicated to INEC by the National Chairman and National Secretary of the party, along with a notification of October 27 as date to conduct substitution nomination primary elections.
However, at the point of uploading the fresh candidates’ names, INEC claimed its nomination portal was faulty and declined to accept the candidates’ list manually, prompting the 24 legal actions.
Ekwo said the evidence of the party, through letters exchanged with INEC in the nomination issue, was credible and proceeded to attach probative value to it.
The judge held that the consequences of non-functional electronic nomination portal could not be visited on the party.
Ekwo agreed with the party that nomination and submission of candidates’ list could not be rejected from any party by INEC until 90 days to the general elections.
The judge said the time the Labour Party sought to submit the list of its candidates in the 24 states was more than 90 days to the 2023 general elections; hence, it was within time allowed by law.
Justice Ekwo held that INEC was bound to accept the Labour Party’s candidates’ list manually, once its electronic nomination portal became faulty.
The judge, consequently, ordered INEC to open its website for the purpose of allowing Labour Party to submit the list of its candidates or accept same manually with immediate effect.