The Forum for Transparency and Integrity in Leadership and a lawyer, Samuel Adeniji, have asked the Federal High Court in Lagos to determine whether the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) can allow Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to vote without complying with the law on voter registration.
They are praying the court to determine whether INEC has the power to conduct 2019 elections in IDP camps without compiling and maintaining a register of voters with respect to eligible voters in the Local Government Areas (LGAs) of origin of the IDPs in question.
The plaintiffs want the court to hold that IDPs can only vote when they comply with the provision of the Electoral Act by applying to the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) of the respective states in which the IDP camps are located.
They sought a declaration that it would be unconstitutional and illegal for INEC to conduct elections in IDP camps, without first complying with the 1999 Constitution and the Electoral Act (2010) by compiling and maintaining as part of the national register of voters, the names of all persons entitled to vote in each IDP camp.
The plaintiffs, through their lawyer, Lekan Idowu of Edgewise Solicitors, prayed for a declaration that they are entitled to view and inspect the voters’ register, if any, which INEC intends to use in the IDP camps.
They also prayed the court to declare that it would be unconstitutional and illegal for INEC to conduct elections in IDP camps located in the Niger Republic and the Republic of Chad or in any other country or place outside Nigeria.
In the suit, the group claims that Professor Mahmood Yakubu, the INEC Chairman, had announced that IDPs in those countries “who left their abodes due to insurgency in the North-East would not be denied their voting rights”.
The plaintiffs sought an order of perpetual injunction restraining INEC from conducting any electoral process during the forthcoming general elections in any of the IDP camps without having first complied with the 1999 Constitution as amended and the Electoral Act with regards to having the names of IDPs on the national voters register. Additionally, they prayed the court for an injunction restraining INEC from allowing any voting in an IDP camp outside Nigeria.
In a supporting affidavit, Adeniji, a lawyer and member of the forum, recalled that INEC recently announced that it would conduct elections in IDP camps. The deponent said the IDP camps are scattered in different locations in the North-East and Abuja, adding that he was not aware that INEC has so far enumerated the specific LGAs the IDPs were originally located.
Adeniji also said he was not aware that the individuals who now reside in the IDP camps applied to be registered or to transfer their registration from their original places of abode to their new locations.
“I believe that it is in the interest of justice that the reliefs in the originating summons are granted,” he prayed.
The originating summons was brought pursuant to Section 153, Paragraph 15 (A) and (E) of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution (as amended); Sections 9, 10 and 13 of Electoral Act No 6 of 2010, Order 3, Rule 1 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2009 and under the inherent powers of the honourable court.
The suit is yet to be heard.