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Court orders INEC to recognise Labour Party Reps candidate

By Jimisayo Opanuga
17 November 2022   |   3:43 pm
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been directed by a Federal High Court in Calabar to recognise and publish Sunday Ifere's name as the Labour Party's legally nominated candidate for the 2023 Abi/Yakurr Federal Constituency election in Cross River.

Supporters of Peter Obi, Presidential candidate of Labour Party for the 2023 Presidential election hold a rally in Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria, on Saturday, October 1, 2022. (Photo by Adekunle Ajayi/NurPhoto) (Photo by Adekunle Ajayi / NurPhoto / NurPhoto via AFP)

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been directed by a Federal High Court in Calabar to recognise and publish Sunday Ifere’s name as the Labour Party’s legally nominated candidate for the 2023 Abi/Yakurr Federal Constituency election in Cross River.

Ifere, the plaintiff had recently filed a suit to the court to compel INEC to accept and deem the hard copy of the Form EC9 (affidavit in support of particulars of persons seeking election to elective offices in Nigeria) as lawful and sufficient to meet the requirements of Section 29 (2) Electoral Act, 2022 as a candidate seeking to contest the 2023 legislative elections.

He also appealed to the court to direct INEC to publish his name forthwith as the valid candidate under the Labour Party for the Abi/Yakurr Federal Constituency poll scheduled for the forthcoming election on Saturday, February 25.

Ifere argued that since he had won the LP primary election for the House of Representatives on Wednesday, June 8 in Ugep and had submitted his name to INEC in accordance with the law, the commission could not disqualify him.

INEC counsel, Mathew Ugwuocha, told the court that the commission was unable to publish Ifere’s name on its final list published because of the failure of its online portal.

Ugwuocha claimed that the portal and the entire system came to a halt and they could not upload the required information adding that the election commission was still working internally to rectify the failure.

Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, in her judgement, ordered that Ifere having fulfilled all the legal requirements prescribed under the constitution and the Electoral Act 2022 is entitled to all the rights and benefits of his candidature as a validly nominated candidate of the LP

“The plaintiff, having fulfilled all the legal requirements prescribed under the constitution and the Electoral Act 2022 to stand for a legislative election, is entitled to all the rights and benefits of his candidature as a validly nominated candidate of the LP for the 2023 Abi/Yakurr Federal Constituency House of Representatives elections,” Justice Ojuwu said.

“This is notwithstanding the negligent acts of a third party in non-compliance to the Electoral Act, 2022 which adversely affects the plaintiff’s candidacy.”

The judge also declared that any House of Representatives election conducted by INEC without Ifere’s name being published and included as one of the contestants for the Abi/Yakurr Federal Constituency poll is illegal, unconstitutional, null and void.

She consequently ordered INEC to accept and deem the hard copy of Form EC9 submitted on 23 August to it as lawful and sufficient to meet the requirement of Section 29 (2) of the Electoral Act, 2022 as a candidate.

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