Law News
PDP chieftain files fresh anti-card reader suit

An Ogun State chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, Waliu Taiwo, has urged a Federal High Court in Lagos to stop the Independent National Electoral Commission from using the electronic card readers in the forthcoming March 28 and April 11 elections as planned.

Taiwo, in the suit numbered FHC/C/CS/296/15, particularly prayed the court to nullify Sections 7 (a) (b), 8, 10, 12 and 13 of the INEC guidelines, which stipulated the use of card readers as the determiner of those who could vote in the coming elections.

The plaintiff, who is the PDP candidate for Ogun West Senatorial District, also vehemently maintained that the card readers could not be lawfully used in the coming elections, in the face of the extant provision of the Electoral Act, which prohibited the use of all electronic voting machine.

Besides, he contended that the card readers could not legally supersede “the content of the register of voters properly compiled” by INEC.

Taiwo, through his counsel, Mr. Ajibola Oluyede, described the move by INEC to use the card readers in voters’ accreditation as a recipe for confusion and political instability in the country.

According to him, this would be the first time anywhere in the world where a device such as the card reader would be placed above the voters’ register compiled by an electoral umpire.

The PDP chieftain prayed the court to declare, among others, that, “in the light of a community reading of sections 77 (2), 117 (2), 132 (5) and 178 (5) of the 1999 Constitution, along with sections 9 (1), 46 (1)(b), 49, 52 (2) of the Electoral Act, 2011, INEC guidelines which stipulate the use of electronic card readers for the purpose of determining the entitlement of persons (with Voter Cards whose names are on the register of voters) to exercise their right to vote in the 2015 general elections, are unconstitutional, ultra vires, null, void.”

In the affidavit filed in support of the action, Taiwo said that inasmuch as the card readers had not been previously tested in less important elections, it would be a big risk to experiment with them in the coming general elections, as their failure could lead to the country’s disintegration.

According to him, the recent mock verification exercise of the card readers was a failure in more than 40 per cent of the areas where they were tested.

“The result of the exercise as reported by many observers showed that the machines are fraught with many challenges and errors ranging from short lifespan of the batteries and inability of the reader to recognise fingerprints of many registered voters, even when the machine manages to confirm the voter’s card to be genuine.

“I know that most parts of Nigeria are hinterland with very difficult terrain such that it will be impracticable to find any solution to faulty card readers on election day to enable eligible voters who reside in such places to exercise their franchise,” he argued.

The case has yet to be assigned to any judge and no hearing date has been fixed.

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