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CJ moves pre-election suits against INEC to Lagos

CJ moves pre-election suits against INEC to Lagos

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The Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho has ordered the transfer of 68 cases filed against the Independent National Electoral Commission and the Labour Party in Abuja to the Lagos Division of the court, where the cause of action emanated.

The transfer of the cases from the Abuja Division of the Court to Lagos was pursuant to the provisions of Rule 4(8)(i) of the Federal High Court (pre-election) Practice Directions 2022.

The rule states that “All suits where-in the cause of action arose in a judicial division and the relief seeks a declaration or to compel or restrain person(s), natural or legal within that judicial division, with no consequence outside it, shall be filed, received or heard only within the judicial division.”

Consequently, Justice Tsoho ordered that the 68 suits be transferred to the Lagos Division of the court.

The plaintiffs, in the various suits filed by the law firm of Bola Aidi and Co, were complaining of the omission of their names from the final list of candidates of the LP for the 2023 National Assembly and State House of Assembly elections in Lagos by INEC.

The thrust of the plaintiff’s case is the publication of the final list of candidates carried out by INEC on September 20, 2022 which omitted their names as candidates of the LP for the Senatorial, House of Representatives and State House of Assembly elections in Lagos state.

Abiodun Dabiri, in his suit numbered, FHC/ABJ/CS/1811/2022 said the refusal or omission by INEC to publish his name, even when he was validly nominated as a candidate of the Labour Party contradicts the provisions of Section 32(1) of the Electoral Act, 2022.

According to him, the court has the power to intervene and mandate INEC to recognize and publish his name as the candidate of the Labour Party for the Lagos Central Senatorial District of Lagos state and urged the court to hold so.

In his own suit marked, FHC/ABJ/CS/1788/22, Peter Nnadi wants the court to declare that INEC’s refusal to publish his name in its final list published in September is wrong and unlawful, having won the primaries conducted on May 27 for the Oshodi 1 Federal Constituency of Lagos state and the said primaries having been duly monitored by the electoral body.

On his part, one of the plaintiffs, Shodimu Olufemi sets out seven questions for the determination of the court, one of which states that, in view of the provisions of Section 29(1) and (3), Section 33 and 84(1) of the Electoral Act, 2022, INEC cannot accept any name sent to it other than his name, as the nominated House of Assembly candidate of the LP for Mainland 2 Constituency of Lagos, having already recognized and published his name, having won the first and lawfully recognized primaries conducted on May 26, 2022, as the House of Assembly candidate of the party for Mainland 2 Constituency of Lagos state.

All the plaintiffs held, in their originating summons that they were validly elected in the primaries conducted and monitored by INEC and that the electoral body cannot omit their names from its finalist as LP’s candidates as they are neither dead nor withdrawn their candidacy as required by the Electoral Act.

They, therefore, prayed the court to compel INEC to recognize and publish their names as LP’s candidates with respect to the Senatorial, House of Representatives, State House of Assembly elections in Lagos state.

They also want the court to make an order compelling the Labour Party to notify INEC of the commission of their names in the final list of candidates published on September 20, having won the primaries to contest for the various positions.

Meanwhile, the cases, which are pre-election in nature would now be handled by the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court, in line with the directive of the Chief Judge of the Court.

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