In a landmark move to address widespread voter disenfranchisement during the just-concluded 2023 general elections in Nigeria, a class action has been initiated at the Federal High Court in Lagos. The 167-page document, which the Human Rights Empowerment Project Limited and applicants Iyk Kings Osuji and Cynthia Eminue are leading, calls for holding the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), and the Attorney General of the Federation accountable for the alleged violations.
In the extensive document obtained by Parallel Facts News, the applicants demand the court enforce several measures to safeguard citizens’ voting rights and uphold their fundamental rights, as guaranteed under the Nigerian Constitution and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.
Firstly, the applicants call for a declaration that the actions and inactions of INEC, which led to the failure to register eligible voters and provide them with permanent voter cards, are oppressive and in violation of their rights. The inability to vote due to this failure undermined the democratic process and left many citizens voiceless in the political affairs of the nation.
One significant issue addressed in the class action is the late commencement of voting in the Southeastern States of the country. The failure of INEC to move election and voting materials promptly contributed to the delay and raised concerns about the integrity and fairness of the electoral process.
Moreover, the inexplicable dumping of voters’ cards in bushes and obscure locations in Nnewi and Okija in Anambra State, as well as in Lagos State, added to the growing list of concerns. This negligence resulted in the disenfranchisement of numerous individuals, depriving them of their fundamental right to vote.
As the body responsible for conducting orderly elections in the country, INEC’s failure to carry out its duties effectively has had far-reaching consequences. The alleged mismanagement of the electoral process is also believed to have contributed to xenophobic attacks in several regions of the country, highlighting the gravity of the situation.
To ensure a thorough investigation into these reported cases, the class action seeks an order of inquiry, calling on the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to conduct a proper investigation and submit their findings to the court. This step is crucial in shedding light on the root causes of the alleged voter disenfranchisement and holding the relevant parties accountable.
Legal professionals and civil rights activists are closely monitoring the class action as it aims to address the pressing issue of voter disenfranchisement and safeguard the rights of Nigerian citizens to fully participate in the democratic process. The case represents a pivotal moment for the country’s electoral system and may set a precedent for future elections.
While the legal proceedings are underway, many are hopeful that the class action will bring about positive change and foster a more transparent and accountable electoral process in Nigeria. As the nation reflects on the just-concluded general elections, the significance of ensuring fair and inclusive elections remains at the forefront of public discourse.
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