7m Nigerians Sue INEC Over Incomplete Voter Registration – – The Tide

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No fewer than 24 Nigerians have filed a lawsuit against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for “failing to give them and other seven million Nigerians adequate time and opportunity to complete their voter registration after they have carried out their registration online.”
The Plaintiffs, who are suing for themselves and on behalf of seven million other Nigerians, want to “complete the registration process, so that they can obtain their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs), and exercise their right to vote” in 2023.
INEC recently disclosed that out of 10,487,972 Nigerians who carried out their pre-registration online, only 3,444,378 completed the process at a physical centre.
This represents just 32.8percent of completed online registration.
But in the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1662/2022 filed, last Friday, at the Federal High Court, Abuja, the Plaintiffs are seeking “an order of mandamus to direct and compel INEC to re-activate its continuous voters’ registration exercise to allow the Plaintiffs to complete their registration and collect their Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs).”
The Plaintiffs are also seeking “an order of mandamus to direct and compel INEC to provide adequate facilities and deploy personnel to the registration units of the Plaintiffs to enable them complete their registration and collect their PVCs.”
The Plaintiffs are arguing that, “We have completed the online registration exercise. Denying us the time and opportunity to complete the registration for our PVCs would impair our right to vote, and deny us a voice in the 2023 elections.”
The Plaintiffs are also arguing that, “The inability to complete our registration is entirely due to factors outside of our control. We are eligible Nigerians but unless we are given a reasonable time and opportunity to complete the registration process, and obtain our voter cards, we will not be able to vote in the 2023 general election.”
The 24 Nigerians include: Adeeyo Bayo Wasiu; Kunat Tychius Amos; Tagbo Philips Chidubem; Emeghe Uchanma Grace; Ayoola Opeyemi Ebenezer; Eche Onah Otakpa; Olatoye Clement Damilola; and Ogunejiofor Raphael Emeka.
Others include: Adedotun Adegoke Babatunde; Emmanuel Promise Tochukwu; Emmanuel Ternajev; Joy Oluwadamilola Ige; Lawrence Ignatius; Agbede Kunle; Eze Daniel Ndubuisi; and Nkemdilim Agbor Bassey.
The rest are: Omoike Iredia Oseine; Joshua Patrick Ogenekaro; Wisdom Emeka; Ukpe Victor Destiny; Abayomi Opeoluwa; Ndubuisi Anthony Ahanihu; Akande Akintunde O.; and Adamma Rhodes.
The suit filed on behalf of the Plaintiffs by lawyers to Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), Kolawole Oluwadare, and Ms Adelanke Aremo, read in part: “Closing the gates on eligible Nigerians cannot preserve trust in the electoral process.
“According to reports, the inability of Nigerians to complete their voters registration exercise or even transfer their permanent voters’ card, affected wide spectrums of persons, hence this class action by the identified plaintiffs on behalf of other affected Nigerians.
“There were reports of incidence of bribery, unethical conducts of INEC staff, registration process marred by irregularities, insufficient machines, malfunctioning of machines, insufficient staff and unskilled staff, before the defendant ended the Continuous Voters’ Registration Exercise on the 31st July, 2022.
“The right to vote is not merely the right to cast a ballot but also the right to be given the time and opportunity to complete the registration process, so that the right can be meaningfully and effectively exercised.
“Any proffered justifications of saving time and cost are therefore wholly insufficient. Administrative convenience is simply not a compelling justification in light of the fundamental nature of the right to vote.
“This severe vote deprivation cannot be justified by any perceived considerations of saving time, especially because Section 9(6) of the Electoral Act 2022 provides that ‘the registration of voters, updating and revision of the Register of Voters shall not stop not later than 90 days before any election covered by this Act.’
“Providing fresh opportunity for the Plaintiffs and seven million other Nigerians to complete their registration would promote and preserve the right to vote, and ensure that legal and eligible voters are not inadvertently and unjustifiably turned away from exercising their fundamental right to vote.
“The Plaintiffs are Nigerians who commenced the voters’ registration exercises in their respective states via successful online enrolment at the respective dates but could not complete the registration process, and obtain their voters cards.
“The plaintiffs also include those who are interested in transferring their permanent voters’ cards to another location so that they can vote.
“The Plaintiffs and other eligible Nigerians have the rights to equal treatment before the law, equal protection, non-discrimination and equal opportunities to participate in the government of Nigeria.
“By refusing the Plaintiffs and seven million other Nigerians the opportunity to complete the registration for their PVCs, INEC have unfairly, unreasonably, and unjustifiably denied them the opportunity to be heard at a meaningful time and in a meaningful manner as to the reasons for not completing their registration.
“The Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended) provides in Section 14(1)(c) that, ‘the participation by the people in their government shall be ensured in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.’
“Similarly, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance guarantee the right to political participation, including the right to vote.
“The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), recently disclosed that over seven million Nigerians who carried out their voter pre-registration online could not complete the process at physical centres.
“According to a report released by INEC, out of 10,487,972 Nigerians who carried out their pre-registration online, only 3,444,378 Nigerians representing 32.8percent, completed the process at a physical centre. 7,043,594 Nigerians carried out their pre-registration but are yet to complete the process at a physical centre.
“This represents over 67percent of those who began their registration process online. According to INEC, a total of 12,298,944 Nigerians completed their voter registration; 8,854,566 of which were persons who did their registration entirely at a physical centre.
“The Plaintiffs and seven million other Nigerians have already completed their registration online, that is, via INEC online portal by providing their bio-data and required documents.
“According to INEC, the process that is outstanding for the applicants to complete the registration for their PVCs is to visit INEC designated centres for their biometric to be captured.”
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.
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President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, departed Abuja, for New York, United States, to attend the annual meeting of world leaders, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA77).
The theme for the 77th session which opened on Tuesday, September 13 is: “A Watershed Moment: Transformative Solutions To Interlocking Challenges.”
Key topics of discussion at the UNGA this year include; the war in Ukraine, the energy crisis, climate action, ending the COVID-19 pandemic, and a special Transforming Education Summit.
A statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Chief Femi Adesina, yesterday, explained that Buhari would take his turn to deliver the National Statement on the second day of the General Debates on Wednesday, September 21.
“Aside his statement, the President will also participate in high level meetings and side events, including the Nigeria International Economic Partnership Forum (NIEPF), convened by Nigeria in partnership with the Business Council for International Understanding (BCIU) on ‘Strengthening Coordination through National Humanitarian Development Peace (NHDP) Framework: A Practical Approach To Sustainable Durable Solutions To Ensure No One Is Left Behind’, organised by the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development; and the EFCC-NEPAD Programme on combating illicit financial flows,” the statement said.
It further said, “President Buhari will also hold strategic bilateral meetings with world leaders, renowned investors and heads of multinational organisations while in New York.”
On the entourage of the President are the First Lady, Aisha Buhari, some governors, ministers and top government officials.
The President is expected back in the country on Monday, September 26.
Meanwhile, Nigeria will host Microsoft founder, Bill Gates; President of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote; and Facebook Chief Executive Officer, Mark Zuckerberg; among others at the second edition of the Nigeria International Economic Partnership Forum (NIEPF) holding on the sidelines of the ongoing United Nations General Assembly in New York, the United States.
Scheduled for Thursday, September 22, 2022, the high-level event will feature “speakers and panellists, including Chairman of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote; Founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates; Chairman, Business Council of the United States and Chief Executive Officer, Microsoft Corp, Satya Nadella; US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken; and President of the Corporate Council on Africa, Florie Liser,” a statement signed by the Spokesman for President Muhammadu Buhari, Garba Shehu, read, yesterday.
The statement titled, ‘Nigeria hosts Global Investment Forum in New York,’ read in part, “In its continued bid to further open up the country’s economy to international capital and attract foreign investment, the Nigerian government, in collaboration with the Africa Business Roundtable, is organising Nigeria International Economic Partnership Forum.
“The NIEPF is expected to draw the presence of world leaders in politics, economy, media as well as civil society organisations and international media to focus on the vast economic potentials of Nigeria and Africa’s leading economy.
“Most significantly, President Buhari will deliver the keynote address at the event and will also host a High-Level Presidential Session with fellow presidents and heads of delegations on Issues That Need Joint Action for African Countries on the Development Drive such as the post COVID-19 recovery and financing priorities; Africa’s Investment Climate and Market as well as De-risking the continent.”
According to Shehu, the NIEPF will bring together top Nigerian government functionaries as well as renowned and highly respected global public and private sector players rubbing minds on Nigeria’s Economic Outlook, focusing on Nigeria in the Global Economy; and International Partnership for Nigeria on the Development Drive.
They include: Members of the Business Council of International Understanding; Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed; US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate; John Kerry; and Executive Chairman of the BUA Group, Abdul Rabiu; who is also the President of the France-Nigeria Business Council.
Others are Mark Zuckerberg; the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; President of the African Development Bank, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina; and Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Amina Mohammed.
Sessions will be cluster around themes such as Growing Nigeria’s Agriculture for Food Security and Access to Export Market with special focus on Impact of the Russia-Ukraine War which presents opportunities for G7/G20-Nigeria Partnerships in Agriculture; Scaling Up International Resources for Financing Education in Africa with emphasis on Making facilities to Link Government, Deal Sponsors and International Pools of Capital in Education; and Nigeria’s Oil and Gas Sector: Reforms, Results and the Road focusing on Scaling Up Investment into the Gas Market—Plants, Parks, Cylinders, Reinjection.
Other issues slated for discussion include: Scaling Up International Resources for Healthcare in Africa bordering on: Upgrading and expanding Nigeria’s Healthcare Infrastructure towards making Nigeria the “healthcare hub” for Africa; Climate Change and Paths to clean environment with emphasis on Paths to Clean Economy, Clean Energy and Clean Development; and Financing Nigeria’s Infrastructure with emphasis on developing infrastructures such as farm to market corridor, farm to ports corridor, export transport corridor, railway network, road network upgrade and expansion, airport upgrade, including dedicated airports for exports, power generation, transmission and distribution.
No fewer than 13,000 Nigerian graduates and under-graduate students are currently seeking admission into over 1,000 universities in the United States.
This was disclosed by the US Mission Consul General, Will Stevens, at the 21st Annual Education USA College and Career Fairs organised in both Abuja and Lagos.
The students, who were said to be exploring possibilities in studying in United States as well as partaking in the American higher education, expressed optimism of connecting to the global world.
This year’s Education USA College and Career Fair, which took place in Abuja and Lagos, was organised by the U.S. Mission, and featuring visiting representatives from 25 universities and colleges from across the United States.
The fair was augmented by talks by U.S. experts and Nigerian-U.S. university alumni on college admissions and student visa application processes.
Speaking with the students, U.S. Consul General, Will Stevens, said that America remains a leading destination for international students, noting that the United States offers students an unrivalled educational experience, flexibility, and diversity.
According to him, “Over the last two decades, Education USA College and Career Fairs have resulted in an increased number of highly qualified Nigerian applicants to U.S. institutions. Nearly 13,000 Nigerians are currently pursuing U.S. graduate and under-graduate degrees across 1,000 U.S. colleges and universities.
“Nigeria sends more students to U.S. colleges and universities than any other country in Africa, and is the 11th largest source country worldwide of international students to the United States. The vast majority of these students, upon graduation, contribute positively to Nigeria’s public and private sectors and civil society when they return”, he said.
Speaking on the theme, “Exploring Opportunities Post-Pandemic,” Stevens noted that the role of the U.S. Mission in Nigeria was to facilitate and build connections between the United States and Nigeria.
He added that one of the best ways these connections are built, and mutual understanding is fostered, was through educational exchange.
“We are happy to provide Nigerian students, who wish to study in the United States, a unique opportunity to learn about the diversity of the programmes offered at various U.S. educational institutions,” he said.
U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission, David Greene, who spoke in Abuja, expressed gratitude to the students, parents, teachers and all 25 U.S. university representatives, which included admissions officers from leading and diverse institutions such as Howard University, Drexel University, Pace University, University of Oregon, Iowa State University, and University of Tennessee for participating in the fairs.
In both cities, Counsellor of Public Affairs, Adnan Siddiqi; U.S. Mission Education USA advisers; and Nigerian alumni of U.S. universities, joined the visiting U.S. college admissions officers to speak about the benefits of American education and study abroad, and to answer questions about the college admissions process, standardised testing, financial aid, and scholarships and opportunities.
Operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) have arrested an ex-convict, Onyeka Charles Madukolu at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, for importing 5.90 kilogrammes of cocaine concealed in cans of deodorants and ladies’ lip gloss into Nigeria.
In a statement, yesterday, NDLEA spokesman, Femi Babafemi, said Onyeka, who was sentenced to seven years imprisonment in Ethiopia for drug trafficking offences and released from prison in 2020, was again arrested, last Friday, at the Lagos airport on his return from Sao Paulo, Brazil via Addis Ababa on an Ethiopian Airlines flight.
“A search of his luggage revealed he had concealed 5.90kg cocaine inside cans of deodorants and female lip gloss.
“During preliminary interview, he claimed to have gone into the drug business to raise fresh capital to start a legitimate business after his release from Ethiopian prison in 2020,” Babafemi said.
The NDLEA spokesman disclosed that the father of two kids, one each from a Nigerian woman and a Brazilian lady, said he was into motor spare parts business before going into the criminal trade.
He added that the 44-year-old indigene of Awka North Local Government Area of Anambra State said he was expecting to be paid N2million on successful delivery of the illicit drug in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, Babafemi said NDLEA operatives had, last Tuesday, intercepted another trafficker, Chukwu Kingsley on his way to Rome, Italy on an Asky Airline flight.
“A search of his luggage shows he had concealed among food condiments 11,460 tablets of tramadol 225mg with a gross weight of 5.7kg and 39 bottles of codeine syrup.
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