UPDATED: PDP sues INEC, opposes postponement of election at any polling unit over card reader

The Peoples Democratic Party has asked the Federal High Court for an order that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) cannot postpone election at a polling unit because of unavailable or malfunctioning smart card readers.

The party filed the suit dated January 11 at the Federal High Court in Abuja.

It is challenging the stipulation in the INEC guidelines that polling would be postponed until card readers are available to authenticate the identity of the voters at the polling unit.

According to the guidelines, if the gadgets are not available before 2 p.m on election day, the exercise at the unit would be shifted to the following day.

According to a copy of the suit sent by the party to our reporter, the PDP, through their lawyer, Kalu Kalu, is of the view that the sections of the INEC guidelines prescribing the use of the card readers negate section 49 of the Electoral Act.

The applicants have also asked the court to treat the matter with urgency, describing it as a pre-election matter which should be settled before February 16. The presidential and National Assembly elections are holding on that day.

The PDP placed a number of questions before the court for resolution and demanded “an order of perpetual injunction restraining INEC from implementing paragraph 10 (a) and (b) of its regulations for the conduct of the 2019 elections or in any manner, whatsoever postponing voting at any polling unit, voting point settlement or voting point on account of malfunctioning of smart card readers.”

Fire incidents have been recorded lately at INEC offices in parts of the country. In one of the incidents on Tuesday in Awka Anambra State, over 4,000 card readers were destroyed.

But INEC said it would replace the gadget before Saturday.

There was controversy last year after President Muhammadu Buhari declined to assent to a bill for the amendment of the Electoral Act. One of the provisions of the bill gives legal backing to the use of smart card readers. At the moment, INEC only relies on its guidelines in the use of the gadget, even though there is a near consensus that it has improved the credibility of elections since the gadget was introduced for the 2015 general elections.

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