2015: Court asked to stop conduct of elections over N17.3bn judgment debt

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BY IKECHUKWU NNOCHIRI

ABUJA—The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court has fixed April 30 to begin hearing on a suit seeking to stop the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, from conducting general elections in 2015, following its inability to pay N17.3billion judgment debt.

Anambra Supplementary Election: INEC Chairman Prof. Attahiru  Jega addressing pressmen , announcing November 30 for Supplementary election at  Anambra State  while National Commissioner Lawrence Nwuruku looks on in Abuja. Photo by Gbemiga Olamikan.

 INEC Chairman Prof. Attahiru Jega. Photo by Gbemiga Olamikan.

The high court had in a judgment on January 28, ordered the electoral body to pay the said sum to an indigenous company, Bedding Holdings Limited, BHL, for infringing on its patent rights.

The court said it was satisfied that INEC and its Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, used Direct Data Capturing, DDC, machines for voters’ registration exercise, without firstly securing the consent of the company which owns the patent right for usage of such machines in Nigeria.

The court further directed INEC to ensure that it not only paid damages to the company, but to also seek consent before employing the machines in future elections.

Meantime, sequel to the inability of INEC to pay the damages, the company, in a fresh suit, is praying the court to stop the Commission from conducting any election in the country pending when it is able to offset the judgment debt.

Consequently, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta who is presiding over the matter, has ordered the service of the suit on both INEC and Jega.

The court also ordered the plaintiff to serve the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN, with a copy of the suit.

The plaintiff is contending that the defendants, cannot without complying with the high court judgement of January 28, 2014, utilise its patented process of applying the DDC machines for voters’ registration, in either the conduct of governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun states or for the 2015 general elections.

 

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