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Accept Labour Party Candidates In 24 States, Court Tells INEC



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For the purpose of the 2023 general elections, a Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to accept the nomination of candidates of the Labour Party (LP) in 24 States of the federation.

The electoral board must accept the list of candidates from the 24 states manually or electronically, according to the court’s judgement.

Justice Inyang Edem Ekwo in his judgments in 24 different suits brought before him by the Labour Party held that INEC violated sections 31, 33 and 36 of the Electoral Act 2022 in rejecting Labour Party candidates in the affected states on the ground of non functionality of its nomination portal.

The 24 states affected by the Court order are Kwara, Plateau, Nasarawa, Lagos, Kaduna, Oyo, Benue, Bauchi, Ebonyi and Ekiti States.

The rest are Katsina, Bayelsa, Niger, Rivers, Sokoto, Akwa Ibom, Gombe, Borno, Osun, Adamawa and Cross River states.

The Labour Party had last November conducted substitution nominations for its candidates who withdrew from the 2023 general elections in the affected states.

The withdrawals were communicated to INEC by the National Chairman and National Secretary of the party along with notification of the October 27 date to conduct substitution nomination primary elections.

However, at the point of uploading the fresh candidates names, INEC claimed that its nomination portal was faulty and declined to accept the candidates list manually promoting the 24 legal actions.

Justice Ekwo in the judgment said that the evidence of the Labour Party through exchanged letters with INEC in the nomination issue was credible and proceeded to attach probative value to it.

The judge held that the consequences of non-functional electronic nomination portal cannot be visited on the Labour Party.

Justice Ekwo agreed with the Labour Party that nomination and submission of candidates list cannot be rejected by INEC from any party untill 90 days to the general elections.

The judge said that the time the Labour Party sought to submit a list of its candidates in the 24 states was more than 90 days to the 2023 general elections, and hence, within time allowed by law.

Justice Ekwo held that INEC was bound to accept the Labour Party’s candidates list manually once its electronic nomination portal is faulty.

The judge subsequently ordered INEC to open its website for the purpose of allowing the Labour Party to submit a list of its candidates or accept the same manually with immediate effect for the purpose of the 2023 general elections.

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