In order to prepare for the 2023 general elections, Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja has directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to accept the nominations of Labour Party (LP) candidates in 24 states across the Federation.
The court ordered that the electoral body accept the list of candidates either manually or electronically through its nomination portal.
Justice Ekwo ruled that INEC violated Sections 31, 33, and 36 of the Electoral Act 2022 by rejecting LP candidates in the affected states due to the non-functionality of its nomination portal.
Kwara, Plateau, Nasarawa, Lagos, Kaduna, Oyo, Benue, Bauchi, Ebonyi, and Ekiti are among the 24 states affected by the court order.
Other states include Katsina, Bayelsa, Niger, Rivers, Sokoto, Akwa Ibom, Gombe, Borno, Osun, Adamawa, and Cross River.
The Labour Party held a substitution nomination last November for its candidates who withdrew from the 2023 general elections in the affected states.
The withdrawals were communicated to INEC by the party’s National Chairman and National Secretary, who also announced the October 27 date for substitution nomination primary elections.
However, when it came to uploading the names of the new candidates, INEC claimed that its nomination portal was faulty and refused to accept the candidates list manually, thereby promoting the 24 legal actions.
Justice Ekwo went on to say that the Labour Party’s evidence in the nomination issue was credible, based on letters exchanged with INEC, and that it had probative value.
The Judge ruled that the Labour Party cannot bear the consequences of a non-functional electronic nomination portal.
Justice Ekwo agreed with the Labour Party that nominations and submissions of candidate lists from any party cannot be rejected by INEC until 90 days before the general elections.
The judge ruled that because the Labour Party sought to submit a list of candidates in each of the 24 states more than 90 days before the 2023 general elections, it was within the time allowed by law.
Justice Ekwo ruled that INEC was required to manually accept the Labour Party’s candidate list if its electronic nomination portal failed.
The judge then ordered INEC to open its website so that the Labour Party could submit a list of candidates or accept it manually with immediate effect for the 2023 general elections.