Labour Party’s lawsuit to force INEC to transmit results is unsuccessful.
A Federal High Court in Abuja has dismissed a lawsuit brought by the Labour Party (LP) that sought to compel the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to use electronic means of transmitting the results of the 2023 elections.
According to the ruling of the presiding judge, Justice Emeka Nwite, Section 52(2) of the Electoral Act, 2022, cited by Monday Mawah, the party’s attorney, allowed for voting and the transmission of results in accordance with a method that would be decided by INEC.
The Judge claims that INEC is free to specify or pick the method of transmitting election results.
The LP sued INEC as a single respondent by filing the original summons, designated FHC/ABJ/CS/1454/2022, on August 22, 2022, through its attorney.
The party asked the court to decide whether the commission can still insist on manual collation of results in the general elections given the combined effect of sections 47 (2), 50 (2), 60(4), 60(5), and 62 (1)(2) and other pertinent provisions of the Electoral Act 2022.
In the event that the issue was decided in its favor, the LP requested two injunctive reliefs.
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Among them are “a declaration that the respondent has no power to opt for a manual method other than the electronic method provided for by the relevant provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022,” and a court order requiring INEC to abide by the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 regarding the electronic transmission of election results in the general elections.
However, INEC did not reply to the lawsuit or submit any paperwork.
Mawah argued that because manual collation of results was not covered by the Electoral Act of 2022, it must be rejected or denied by the court in light of the law’s provisions.
It is a common misconception that the court’s sole responsibility is to interpret the law, Justice Nwite said in delivering the ruling.
The court “is enjoined to interpret the status quo without going outside of them to bring in what the court would think was intended” when interpreting the law.
He asserts that the court’s roles and responsibilities in the interpretation of a statute include giving the statute’s explicit and unambiguous language meaning and force.
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The Electoral Act of 2022’s Sections 50(2), 60(5), and 62(2) were the points of contention, the judge concluded after hearing the plaintiff’s attorney’s argument.
He stated: “The Electoral Act of 2022 provision of Section 60(5), as cited above, has provided for the transfer of election results, including the total number of the accredited voters from the polling unit.
On the other hand, Section 62(2) calls for the creation, upkeep, and ongoing updating of the register of election results, which serves as a separate database for all polling unit results as tallied in all elections conducted by the commission.
According to the aforementioned Section 62(2), the commission must maintain an electronic record of election results at its national headquarters.
“Now, a careful reading of Section 50(2) has made it clear that voting and the transmission of results must be done in accordance with the method that the commission will decide.