A Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission to accept the nomination of candidates of the Labour Party in 24 states of the Federation for the 2023 general elections.
The court ordered that the INEC must accept the list of the candidates in the 24 states either manually or through its electronic nomination portal.
The presiding judge, 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 LP 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.
Others are Katsina, Bayelsa, Niger, Rivers, Sokoto, Akwa Ibom, Gombe, Borno, Osun, Adamawa and Cross River states.
LP 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.
But 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 prompting the 24 legal actions.
Justice Ekwo in the judgment said that the evidence of the LP 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 LP.
The court agreed with the LP 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.
The judge held that INEC was bound to accept the Labour Party’s candidates list manually once its electronic nomination portal is faulty.
He subsequently ordered INEC to open its website for the purpose of allowing the LP to submit a list of its candidates or accept the same manually with immediate effect for the purpose of the 2023 general elections.