Justice Adeniyi Ademola of a Federal High Court in Abuja has refused move by some political parties to stop the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from deploying Card Reader Machines (CRM) for the forthcoming general election.
In his ruling on an ex-parte application by four political parties – United Democratic Party (UDP), Action Alliance (AA), Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) and Alliance for Democracy (AD) for an interim order against INEC, Justice Ademola refused to grant the request to stop the electoral body from proceeding with arrangement and plans to use the CRM for the elections.
The judge noted that although the parties had made out a case for the granting of their prayers, the balance of convenience was not in their favour.
The judge said, “There is no loss that the plaintiffs will suffer, if the defendant (INEC) is given the opportunity to respond to the issues raised. This court feels that it is fair that the defendant be given the opportunity to be heard.”
He however granted the plaintiffs’ prayers for abridgment of time for the defendant to respond and an order for accelerated hearing in the case.
He also ordered INEC to within four days of the service of plaintiffs’ processes on it, respond and serve it responses on the plaintiffs.
The parties had in the ex-parte application argued yesterday by Alex Iziyon (SAN), leading two other SANs, sought for “an order of interim injunction restraining the defendant, and its agents from implementing or commencing or further implementing or further commencing or directing or further directing the use and preparation of the Card Reader Machine or any name of like nature, pending the determination of the motion on notice.”
They also sought for “an order abridging time within which the defendant may file and deliver all responses to the plaintiffs’ originating summons and motion on notice to four days from the date of service of plaintiffs’ processes” and “an order granting accelerated hearing to this matter”
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Iziyon argued that the decision of INEC to deploy card readers for the election was a violation of the provision of Section 52(1)(2) which prohibit the use of any electronic method of voting in the country. He argued that the deployment of card reader for voters’ verification could pass as electronic voting.
The four parties are among the 16 parties that supported the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in objecting to the conduct of the elections as earlier scheduled. They have also adopted President Goodluck Jonathan (the presidential candidate of the PDP) as their candidate.
They hinged their prayers on the grounds that, the INEC published in January 2015 Manual for Election Officials 2015 and INEC Approved Guidelines and Regulations for the conduct of the 2015 general elections, to help election officials learn all aspects of polling to enable them face the challenge and answer questions that may arise on the day of election.
The parties argued that the use of Card Reader Machine for the forthcoming election is not in conformity with the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).
The case has been adjourned till March 10.
and that their members across the country who have been enlightened on the accreditation procedure as contained in the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) would be disenfranchised as they were not educated on the use of Card Reader.
UDP’s National Chairman and presidential candidate, Okoye Godson, who deposed to a supporting affidavit, argued that subjecting the voter’s cards of the plaintiffs’ members to Card Reader Machine runs foul of the Electoral Act and as such, a nullity.