The Federal High Court, Abuja has fixed Feb. 28 to hear the suit filed by two aggrieved Nigerians seeking the use of Temporary Voter Cards, (TVCs) in the general elections in the absence of the Permanent Voter Cards, (PVCs).
At they resumed hearing of the matter on Wednesday, counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), Ummukulthum Muazu told the court that she would serve her processes on the plaintiffs before the end of the day.
For his part, counsel to the plaintiff, Mr Victor Opatola told the court that when served the processes, if there was no need for a reply to their counter affidavit, they would go our head to adopt their processes on the next adjourned date and await judgment.
Opatola prayed the court to consider the urgency of the matter which had to do with the disenfranchisement of eligible voters and fix hearing for Thursday.
The judge, Justice Obiora Egwuatu, however, said that the court was proceeding on the short break from Thursday because of the general elections and the earliest date would be Feb. 28 when the court resumed.
He subsequently adjourned the matter until Feb. 28 for hearing and possible adoption.
Speaking to the News Agency of Nigeria, (NAN), counsel to the plaintiffs said that it would cost the electoral umpire nothing if the court granted his client’s prayers.
“As it stands, what we are saying is that if the order is given, INEC does not need a special technology to allow people use their TVC to vote.
“The content of the TVC is the same as the content PVC, the only difference is the plastic and the BVAS requires the thumbprint and facial recognition so with the TVC, an eligible voter can also be allowed to vote.”
NAN reports that INEC has repeatedly held that only eligible voters with the PVCs will be allowed to vote in the 2023 presidential, governorship and parliamentary elections.
NAN also reports that the plaintiffs, Kofoworola Olusegun and Wilson Allwell in the suit filed on Feb. 8 and marked FHC/ABJ/CS/180/2023, are asking the court to determine “Whether by the true construction and interpretation of section 10(2), 12(1) and 47 of the Electoral Act 2022; Section 77(2) and 132(5) of the 1999 constitution (as amended), and bearing in mind that the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) machine introduced by INEC only needs the thumbprint and/or facial recognition to accredit a voter.
“Whether a person whose name appears in the electronic format in the INEC’s central database and manual, printed paper based record or hard copy format of the Register of Voters and has been assigned a Voter’s Identification Number (VIN), can be said to be entitled to be accredited to vote with his/her Temporary Voter’s Card, in the forthcoming General Election to be conducted by the Defendant.
“Whether such a person can as a consequence of the defendant’s inabilities, actions and omission be disenfranchised of the right and entitlement to vote in the forthcoming 2023 general election.
The plaintiffs asked the court to grant the following reliefs should the questions be answered in their favour.
“A declaration that the plaintiff, having fulfilled all necessary legal requirements to register and having consequently been captured in it’s central database and manual, printed paper based record or hard copy format of INEC’s maintained register of voters, the plaintiff are entitled to vote using their TVC in the forthcoming 2023 General Election.
“An order compelling INEC to allow the plaintiff to vote using the TVC issued by INEC, the plaintiff having been duly captured in the national register of voter’s database.
“Any other order, the court may deem fit for all other Nigerians who are like the plaintiffs and have not gotten their permanent voters’ card, as the court may deem fit.(NAN)