January 31, 2023

Court fixes Feb 15 to rule on Diaspora voting for Nigerians

By Biodun Busari

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has fixed February 15 to deliver judgment in a suit seeking the eligibility of Nigerians living abroad to vote in the forthcoming general elections.

The presiding judge, Inyang Ekwo, chose the date on Tuesday after counsels for the parties adopted their processes and presented their arguments for and against the suit.

The plaintiffs, Chikwe Nkemnacho and Kenneth Nkemnacho, residents of the United Kingdom instituted the case on behalf of Nigerians in the Diaspora.

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the INEC chairperson, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and the Federal Republic of Nigeria are listed as the first to fourth defendants, respectfully.

In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/2119/2022, the petitioners asked the court to order INEC and the federal government to stop campaigning for the 2023 elections until they are included as registered voters for the polls.

They also asked the court to rule that, in accordance with sections 13, 14, 42, and 17 of the 1999 constitution, those of them who are of voting age are entitled to participate in the electoral process by registering to vote in all elections, notwithstanding their place of residence.

They further sought a court declaration that there is still enough time for the country’s electoral body to obey the provisions of sections 13, 14, and 15 of the 1999 constitution.

They argued that unless they are allowed to vote in the 2023 elections and subsequent ones, their fundamental rights as enshrined in the 1999 constitution would be grossly violated.