INEC: Court Dismisses Labour Party Suit Seeking Electronic Transmission Of Election Result
The Federal High Court in Abuja has dismissed a suit filed by the Labour Party (LP) to compel the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to adopt electronic means of transmitting the 2023 election results.
In his ruling, the presiding judge, Justice Emeka Nwite, determined that Section 52(2) of the Electoral Act, 2022, cited by Monday Mawah, counsel for the party, provided for voting and transmission of results in accordance with INEC’s procedure.
According to the judge, INEC is free to prescribe or select the method of transmitting election results.
The LP, through its attorney, filed the originating summons, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1454/2022, on August 22, 2022, to sue INEC as the sole defendant.
The party asked the court to determine whether, in light of the combined effect of sections 47 (2), 50 (2), 60(4), 60 (5), and 62 (1)(2) of the Electoral Act 2022 and other pertinent provisions, the commission can still insist on manual collation of election results.
The LP requested two injunctive reliefs if the question was decided in its favour.
These include “a declaration that the respondent has no authority to opt for a manual method other than the electronic method provided for by the relevant provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022” and an order compelling INEC to comply with the Electoral Act 2022 regarding the electronic transmission of election results.
However, INEC neither responded nor filed a motion in the lawsuit.
Mawah argued in his brief that, based on the provisions of the Electoral Act of 2022, manual collation of results was not permitted and must therefore be rejected or disallowed by the court.
Justice Nwite, while delivering the verdict, stated, “It is a truism that the court’s role is limited to interpreting the law.
“When interpreting the law, the court is required to interpret the status quo without introducing its own interpretation of what was intended.”
According to him, the court’s functions, roles, and responsibilities in interpreting a statute are to give meaning and effect to the statute’s clear and unambiguous words.
Sections 50(2), 60(5), and 62(2) of the Electoral Act of 2022, according to the judge’s analysis of the plaintiff’s attorney’s argument, were the subject of contention or interpretation requests.
According to him, Section 60(5) of the Electoral Act of 2022 has provided for the transfer of election results, including the total number of accredited voters, from each polling location.
“Section 62(2), on the other hand, provides for the compilation, maintenance, and continuous update of the register of election results as a distinct database for all polling unit results as compiled in all commission-conducted elections.
“According to Section 62(2), this register of election results must be maintained in an electronic format at the commission’s national headquarters.
“Now, a careful reading of Section 50(2) reveals that voting and transmission of results must be conducted in accordance with the commission-determined procedure.
This means that the commission is at liberty to prescribe or select the method for transmitting election results.
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