New Polling Units : INEC Dragged Before Abuja Court
… Plaintiffs Want Newly-created Centres Nullified
SAN FRANCISCO, September 21, (THEWILL) -The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been dragged before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja over its newly-created Polling Units.
Instituting the suit against INEC were three men, one of whom claims to be aspiring to the office of the president of Nigeria.
The plaintiffs – Ikogi Joseph from Bayelsa State, Odumegwu Chinedu from Anambra State and Omotoso Nicholas from Ekiti State – are praying the court to nullify the 30,027 new polling centres by restraining INEC from giving effect to the new polling units.
Listed as defendants in the suit filed on September 10 are INEC and the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF).
Their counsel, Dr. Olukayode Olatoke (SAN), posed six questions, bordering on the basis for the creation of the new polling centres by INEC as well as their legality, for the determination by the court.
However, INEC and the AGF are yet to file in their defence.
The plaintiffs also asked the court to declare that INEC acted beyond its power under section 73 (1) and (2) of the 1999 Constitution when it created the new polling units.
They argued that a fresh national population census ought to have been conducted before new polling units could be created and that since no such census was conducted, the new polling units were illegally created.
They also asked the court to declare that: “The act of INEC in creating more polling units for the northern part of Nigeria in utter neglect of the southern part is discriminatory and against the express provision of section 42 (1) (b) of the 1999 constitution.”
The first plaintiff, Joseph, in an affidavit filed in support of the originating summons, said INEC without any basis increased the number of polling units from 119,973 to 150,000 and arbitrarily allocated same to various states.
He alleged that INEC, without justification, discriminatorily allocated 24,386 polling units to the north out of the 30,027 polling units and allocated the remaining 5,641 to the southern part of the country.
He averred that with the new polling units distribution, the 20 states in the north would have 83,607 polling units while the 17 states in the south were allocated 66,393 units.
“I know as a fact that in the northern state, over 500,000 people have died and another 650,000 had been displaced as a result of the Boko Haram insurgency.
“That I know as a fact that most people that fled from Bornu, Bauchi, Yobe, Adamawa, Niger, Kano, Kaduna, Plateau States and Abuja fled to the southern part of the country and Cameroon,” Joseph said.
Maintaining that the voting population of the northern states had reduced by over 20 million due to the insurgency in some statesâ€Ž, he said the fact that many in the north had been forced to relocate to the south implied that the south should have more polling units whiâ€Žle the north should have less.
“Rather than adding to the number of polling units in the southern part, INEC removed and closed down many polling units in five states, namely Anambra, Bayelsa, Ekiti Enugu and Osun.
“That the formula for the creation of the new polling centres is a ploy for the northern Nigeria to continue to dominate the south,” he alleged further.
According to Joseph, there was no justification or any development to the voting regime in the northern part of the country to justify the increase to give advantage of about 14,000 polling units over the south.
Other reliefs being sought by the plaintiffs include :
A declaration that section 42 of the Electoral Act, 2010 is not exercisable alone â€Žwithout recourse to section 73 of the 1999 constitution as amended;
A declaration that INEC could not alter or approve the creation of additional new polling units nationwide in the absence of another national population census after 2011 or any other verifiable and acceptable statistical basis, and;
A declaration that the creation of new polling centres without any statistical basis is unconstitutional, null and void.