A Federal High Court sitting in Abeokuta on Thursday directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to list names of 26 State House of Assembly and 12 National Assembly candidates of the Labour Party (LP), for the 2023 national and State Assembly seats in Ogun State.
The presiding judge, Justice Adetayo Aluko held that the Electoral Act, 2022 is superior to INEC guidelines on elections and such the commission can’t use it to reject LP candidates.
Justice Aluko held further that Section 31 of the Electoral Act, 2022 permits parties to submit names of candidates that emerged from substitution primaries not later than 90 days before the election.
The judge noted the INEC by its own manuals, cannot limit the time provided for by the Electoral Act.
INEC, had earlier failed to list the candidates of Labour Party for the National and State Assembly seats for what the electoral umpire deemed failure of the Party to submit names of its candidates for the 26 House Assembly seats, three Senatorial seats and Nine House of Representatives within the time allowed by the provisions of the commission’s guidelines.
The court held that, “From the records available to us, Labour Party did not submit that of the national and House of Assembly candidates name.”
The commission gave July 15 for the submission of the list of candidates for the presidential and National Assembly elections and August 12 for candidates for governorship and state’s House of Assemblies polls but LP could not meet the deadline.
The LP and the applicants prayed the court to make an order directing INEC to allow the party to names of all applicants for 2023 State and national assembly elections.
The party contended that it held credible primary elections and forwarded candidates that emerged from the primaries within 90 days time frame allowed by the Electoral Act.
The suit marked FHC/AB/CS/243/2022, between Labour Party, Comrade Abayomi Arabambi and eight others as plaintiffs while the sued INEC as the lone respondent.
The party had requested the court for an order compelling INEC to “accept, recognize and publish the names of candidates submitted by the party.”
In his judgment on Thursday, Justice Akintayo Aluko, ordered the INEC to accept and publish names of the three senatorial, nine House of Representatives and 26 State House of Assembly candidates of the party on its website.
The LP counsel, Monday Mawah hailed the verdict, saying the court has answered question raised in the application in favour of the party.
He said, “with this judgment, our Senatorial, House of Representatives and all the 26 State House of Assembly candidates have now been given clearance to contest in the election.
“Today, the court answered the question raised by the Labour Party in the affirmative that we are still within time to conduct primaries and then the court thereafter ordered that INEC should accept the list of candidates from the Federal to the State level to be published immediately to enable those candidates participate like every other candidate and to enable Labour Party to participate like every other party in the forthcoming election.
“The governorship candidate is not part of the case. The candidates that we got judgement for in this case are the three senatorial candidates, the house of representatives and national assembly in the state.
“His (governorship candidate) case is still in the court and he is doing it with his own lawyer, so it is not part of the ones we handled for the party,” he said.