A Federal High Court, Abuja has ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to allow the Labour Party (LP) submit the name of its candidate, Clarita Ogar, for the 2023 Cross River House of Representatives election.
Justice Donatus Okorowo, in a judgement, held that the Electoral Act, 2022 is superior to INEC guidelines on elections.
Justice Okorowo stated further that Section 31 of the Electoral Act, 2022 allows parties to still submit names of candidates that emerge from substitution primaries not later than 90 days to the election.
He said that the electoral umpire, by its own manuals, cannot limit the time provided for by the Electoral Act.
It would be recalled that Ogar emerged the LP candidate for the 2023 Yala/Ogoga Federal Constituency poll in Cross Rivers.
However, the party could not meet up with the INEC’s guidelines for the submission of Ogar’s name as its candidate for the constituency.
The commission had given July 15 for the submission of list of candidates for the presidential and National Assembly elections and Aug. 12 for candidates for governorship and state’s House of Assemblies polls
But the party, in an originating summons marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1325/22 had sued INEC as sole respondent in the suit.
In the matter filed by its lawyer, Monday Mawah, LP, Comrade Abayomi Arabambi and Ogar Mpeh Clarita are 1st to 3rd applicants respectively.
The applicants had prayed the court to make an order directing INEC to allow the party (1st apolicant) submit the name of Ogar (3rd applicant) for the Yala/Ogoga Federal Constituency election in the state electronically or manually.
They urged the court to declare that by virtue of Section 31 of the Electoral Act, 2022, INEC had no power to reject the name of its candidate.
In the affidavit in support of the motion deposed to by Comrade Abayomi Arabambi, the party’s National Publicity Secretary, he averred that Ogar emerged as candidate for the constituency in the substitution primary held on July 14 in Cross River.
“That the 3rd applicant is a member of the 1st applicant that emerged from a congress held and monitored by the officers of the respondent in Cross River State on the 14th of July, 2022.
“That I was informed by my solicitor, Monday Mawah that by the new Electoral Act, political parties are to change their candidates upon death or withdrawal of any of the candidates.
“That the party concern is to write notice of such withdrawal to the respondent.
“That the 1st applicant did write notice of the withdrawal to the respondent. photocopy of the withdrawal notice dated on the 8th day of July, 2022 is herewith attached and marked as Exhibit “B.”
“That the new Electoral Act allows party affected to submit the lists of such candidate (s) to the respondent not later than 90 days before the date appointed for the election.
“That I know as a fact that the election is still well over 90 days from today.
“That while we were trying to submit or enter the name of the 3rd applicant in the site of the respondent, the entire system of the respondent crashed and as a result, we could not submit the name of 3rd applicant.
“That attempt to submit same proved abortive,” Arabambi said