Court orders INEC to accept LP candidates

Justice Inyang Ekwo of a Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission to accept the nomination of candidates of the Labour Party in 24 states for the forthcoming general elections.

The court ordered that the commission must accept the list of candidates in the 24 states either manually or through its electronic nomination portal.

Justice Ekwo, in his judgments on 24 separate suits brought before him by the 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-functional of its nomination portal.

The 24 states affected by the court order are Kwara, Plateau, Nasarawa, Lagos, Kaduna, Oyo, Benue, Bauchi, Ebonyi and Ekiti.

Others are Katsina, Bayelsa, Niger, Rivers, Sokoto, Akwa Ibom, Gombe, Borno, Osun, Adamawa and Cross River States among others.

The LP had last year November conducted substitution nominations for its candidates who withdrew from the general elections in the affected states.

The withdrawals were communicated to INEC by the National Chairman and National Secretary of the party along with notification of the October 27 date to conduct substitution nomination primary elections.

However, at the point of uploading the fresh candidates’ names, INEC claimed that its nomination portal was faulty and declined to accept the candidates’ list manually.

Justice Ekwo in the judgment said the party’s evidence through exchanged letters with INEC on the nomination issue was credible and proceeded to attach probative value to it.

The judge said the time the party sought to submit the list of its candidates in the 24 states was more than 90 days before the general elections, hence, it was within the time allowed by law.

Justice Ekwo subsequently ordered INEC to open its website to allow the party to submit the list of its candidates or accept the same manually with immediate effect.

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