The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has approached the Court of Appeal Abuja, asking it to set aside the judgement of the Federal High Court, which ordered it to allow electorate with Temporary Voter Cards (TVC) to vote in the Governorship and National Assembly elections billed for Saturday, March 18.
In the suit, the electoral body applied for an order of injunction against execution of the judgement delivered on March 9, directing them to allow the Respondents use their Temporary Voter Cards, in lieu of the Permanent Voter Cards, for the 2023 general elections,” pending the determination of its appeal.
In its three grounds of appeal, INEC held that the Federal High Court Abuja erred in its judgement, when it dismissed its position that allowing use of the TVC would amount to usurpation of the powers of the National Assembly under Item II of the concurrent legislative list.
It faulted the trial court for declaring that PVC was not mentioned in the Constitution or the Electoral Act as a condition to be allowed to vote or as the only means a voter would be entitled to be verified, accredited and to vote.
INEC said, “By combined provision of Section 47 (1) & (2) of the Electoral Act 2022 and Paragraph 5(IV) of INEC Regulations & Guidelines for the conduct of elections 2022, a person is eligible to vote at an election conducted by the Commission, if he or she presents a valid PVC at the polling unit in which he is registered as a voter.”
It further argued that by virtue of section 18(3) of the Electoral Act 2022, “the intendment of the lawmakers is clear for the effect that a PVC is the only valid instrument for voter accreditation at polling unit with the use of BVAS machine in elections”.
The electoral body added that the whole essence of the Manual & Guidelines was defeated by the decision of the trial court when it embarked on judicial legislation and jettisoned the relevance and import of the said Manual & Guidelines which prescribed in detail, accreditation and voting procedure with the exclusive use of PVCs.
Justice Obiora Egwuatu of the Federal high court had in his judgement, ordered INEC to allow two aggrieved registered voters, Misters Kofoworola Olusegun and Wilson Allwell, to participate in the elections with their TVCs.
The plaintiffs had lamented that despite their effort and repeated visits to INEC office, they were unable to obtain their PVCs, before February 6 which the electoral body fixed as deadline for collection of the cards.
The trial court held that evidence before it established that the plaintiffs were duly registered with their details captured in INEC’s database.
It therefore, issued an order compelling INEC to allow them to vote during the forthcoming elections, using the TVC issued by the electoral body, having been duly captured in the National Register of Voter’s database.