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Poll: Court orders INEC to paste, transmit results electronically

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was ordered by a Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday to electronically transmit the results of the governorship and house of assembly elections on Saturday in accordance with its regulations and guidelines.

In a judgment, Justice Obiora Egwuatu also directed the use of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) to upload a scanned copy of the EC8A to the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV) as soon as all of Akwa Ibom’s voting and results procedures had been completed.

After completing the EC8A result sheets in the state, the judge also instructed the commission to prominently paste the publication of its result posters EC60(E) at polling units.

In addition, he instructed INEC to use independent, competent, and dependable logistic companies that are neither partisan nor well-known supporters of any political party for the distribution of electoral materials and personnel in order to ensure that Section 27(1) of the Electoral Act of 2022 was followed when it came to the distribution of electoral materials during the state elections.

According to Egwuatu, the electoral umpire averred in its filed affidavit that it was aware of its legal obligations and had not failed to fulfill them, so granting the applicants’ prayers would not harm the commission but rather boost its performance.

Following a lawsuit brought by the Labour Party (LP) and its candidate for governor in Akwa Ibom, Uduakobong Udoh, as well as 13 candidates for the state’s House of Assembly in the elections scheduled for March 18, he issued the judgment.

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Keep in mind that the applicants marked: on the original summons. Moses Usoh-Abia, their attorney, had filed the lawsuit, FHC/ABJ/CS/334/2023, on March 15 as the sole defendant.

The candidates, who looked for seven reliefs, asked the court for a request for mandamus convincing INEC and every one of its representatives to conform to and authorize the arrangement of Proviso 37 of the Guidelines and Rules for the Direct of the Saturday’s governorship and place of gathering races in Akwa Ibom.

After completing the EC8A result sheets, they also pleaded with the court to require the presiding officers of each polling unit to prominently paste the publication of result posters EC460(E) at the polling units.

They sought an order of mandamus from the commission requiring the presiding officers of all polling units in the state to use the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) to upload a scanned copy of the EC8A to the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV) as soon as the voting and results procedures for all polling units had been completed.

According to them, this was in accordance with Clause 38 of the guidelines for conducting the polls.

The applicants also requested, among other reliefs, an order directing INEC to use the services of independent, competent, and dependable logistic companies that are non-partisan or known supporters of any political for the distribution of electoral materials and personnel in order to ensure compliance with Section 27(1) of the Electoral Act, 2022 during the polls.

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Following an ex-parte motion filed by Usoh-Abia, Justice Egwuatu granted the applicants permission to proceed with a judicial review on Wednesday, filed the necessary motion, and notified INEC.

Upon continued hearing regarding this situation on Friday, Usoh-Abia informed that he had followed the prior court request and that their movement was served on INEC same Wednesday.

The attorney stated that the commission was not represented in court despite the service of their process.

However, the judge stated that he observed INEC: a preliminary objection to their original summons and a counter affidavit in the court file.

The application, he stated, was submitted on Thursday.

In response, Usoh-Abia stated that despite the fact that the commission had not yet served them, he was prepared to proceed with the matter due to the urgency of the case.

He stated that there were nine exhibits and a 26-paragraph affidavit in the March 15 motion.

The lawyer asked the court to tell the electoral umpire to follow its rules and guidelines for how the elections should be done in Clauses 37 and 38.

He claimed that the order was required due to the commission’s failure to communicate the state’s and national election results following the Presidential and National Assembly elections on February 25.

He argued that INEC established the rules and guidelines, in accordance with Sections 148 and 60(5) of the Electoral Act of 2022, to direct, among other things, the conduct of elections and the compilation of election results.

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According to Usoh-Abia, INEC’s disregard for the law had led to serious bias; at their various polling units and wards, and had inflicted uncertainty and frustration on his customers.

The lawyer said that the same thing would happen in the poll on Saturday if the order wasn’t granted.

However, INEC claimed in its preliminary objection that the suit was without merit and that the court lacked the authority to hear it.

The applicants had not established a justifiable action against the commission, according to the commission.

Additionally, it stated that the applicants violated the practice direction by initiating the suit with originating summons.

Justice Egwuatu said in his judgment that the applicants had filed their application in accordance with the practice direction rules.

In addition, he stated that he was satisfied that the applicants’ process had established a cause of action against INEC.

As a result, the judge gave the order to INEC to tell all of its presiding officers to follow Clauses 37 and 38 of its rules and guidelines for how the election in Akwa Ibom tomorrow will be run.

He ruled that the commission was required by law to follow the law.

However, the judge refused to grant any other reliefs.

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