While the All Progressives Congress (APC) was challenging the judgment of the Federal High Court, Lagos which ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to electronically upload the results of Saturday’s governorship and State House of Assembly elections, another Federal High Court in Abuja has mandated the Commission to electronically transmit results of the exercise in accordance with its regulations and guidelines.
Justice Obiora Egwuatu gave the judgment on Friday following a suit filed by the Labour Party, its governorship candidate in Akwa Ibom, Uduakobong Udoh, and 13 state house of assembly candidates for the March 18 elections.
The applicants, in the originating summons dated and filed on March 15 by their lawyer, Moses Usoh-Abia, had sued INEC as the sole defendant.
The summary of the facts of the applicants’ case is that during the conduct of the presidential election on the 25th of February 2023, INEC and its officers failed to paste election results at polling units and to upload scanned election results on the IREV through the BVAS.
They submitted that INEC’s refusal to act has resulted in serious prejudice and has foisted uncertainty and frustration on the applicants at their various polling units and wards and to the general election as a whole.
They also contended that if the Court does not grant the reliefs, the same failure will be repeated at the governorship and house of assembly election on 18th March 2023.
INEC, in its response before the court, denied most of the facts deposed to by the applicants. They also claimed that the presiding officers and other election officers duly complied with the provisions and pasted Forms EC8A at the various polling units at the end of the election in Akwa Ibom State and other states of the federation.
They submitted further that the initial delay in uploading Form EC8A on the portal (IReV) was throughout the nation and not only in Akwa Ibom State and was due to some glitches beyond the control of the Commission which were later ratified and all Forms EC8A were uploaded on the portal. The situation, they said. guaranteed that there was no manipulation of results during the presidential election of 25th February 2023.
In conclusion, the commission asked the court to dismiss the applicants’ suit for being incompetent, baseless, vexatious, speculative, and an abuse of the court process.
In his judgment, Justice Egwuatu granted an order of Mandamus compelling INEC, its servants, agents, privies, and any person acting under their directions to:
a. Comply with and enforce the provision of clause 37 of the Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections 2022 for the conduct of the governorship and houses of assembly elections in Akwa Ibom State on the 18th of March, 2023 to wit: mandating the presiding officer of al polling units to paste the publication of result poster EC60 (E) at the polling units conspicuously after completing the EC8A result sheet.
b. Comply with and enforce the provision of clause 38 of the Regulations and Guidelines for the conduct of Elections 2022 for the conduct of governorships and houses of assembly elections in Akwa Ibom State on the 18th of March, 2023, mandating the presiding officer of all polling units to electronically transmit or transfer the results of the polling units direct to the collation system and use the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) to upload a scanned copy of the
EC8A to the respondent’s (INEc’s) Result Viewing Portal (IReV) immediately after the completion of all the polling units’ voting and results procedures.
c. Enforce the observance and compliance of section 27 (1) of the Electoral Act, 2022 in the distribution of electoral materials during the conduct of the governorship and house of assembly election in Akwa Ibom State on 18 March 2023 by engaging the services of independent, competent, and reliable logistic companies who are non-partisans or known supporters of any a political party for the distribution of electoral materials and personnel.