Nigeria News
INEC Dragged to Court over New Polling Units


Three men, one of whom claims he is aspiring to be president of Nigeria, have filed a suit at the Federal High Court in Abuja seeking to nullify the 30,027  new polling centres recently created by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The plaintiffs, Ikogi Joseph from Bayelsa State, Odumegwu Chinedu from Anambra State and Omotoso Nicholas from Ekiti State, want the court to restrain INEC from giving effect to the new polling units.
Aside from INEC, the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation was also joined as a defendant.

Their lawyer, Dr. Olukayode Olatoke (SAN) posed six questions for the determination by the court. All the questions queried the basis for the creation and the legality of the new polling centres recently announced by INEC.
INEC and the AGF are yet to respond to the suit which was filed on September 10.
However, they are still within time as the court rules grant them 30 days to file 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 had to be 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.”

In an affidavit filed in support of the originating summons, the first plaintiff, Joseph 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 stated 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.

He said: “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 Cameroun.”

He also claimed that the voting population of the northern states had reduced by over 20 million due to the insurgency in some states.
He concluded that   the fact that many in the north had been forced to relocate to the south implied that the south should have more polling units, while the North should have less.

He added: “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 centre is a ploy for the northern Nigeria to continue to dominate the south.”

Joseph said that there was no justification or any development to the voting regime in the northern part to justify that astrological increase to give advantage of about 14,000 polling units over the south.
Other reliefs claimed by the plaintiffs: A declaration that section 42 of the Electoral Act, 2010 is not exercisable alone without 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.

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