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Include LP candidate, court orders INEC

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An Abuja Federal High Court has ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission to include the name of Labour Party Candidate, Clarita Ogar, for the 2023 Cross River House of Representatives election.

Justice Donatus Okorowo on Monday held that the Electoral Act 2022 was superior to INEC guidelines on elections.

This is even as he stated that Section 31 of the Electoral Act 2022 allows parties to still submit names of candidates that emerge from substitution primaries not later than 90 days to the election.

The judge stated that INEC, by its own manuals, cannot limit the time provided for by the Electoral Act.

Ogar had emerged the LP candidate for the 2023 Yala/Ogoga Federal Constituency poll in Cross River State but the party could not meet up with INEC’s guidelines for the submission of her name as its candidate for the constituency.

The commission had given July 15 for the submission of list of candidates for the presidential and National Assembly elections and August 12 for candidates for governorship and state’s House of Assemblies polls.

This prompted the party to sue INEC in an originating summons marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1325/22 as sole respondent in the suit.

In the matter filed by its lawyer, Monday Mawah, LP, Comrade Abayomi Arabambi and Ogar Clarita are 1st to 3rd applicants respectively.

The applicants had prayed the court to make an order directing INEC to allow the party (1st applicant) submit the name of Ogar (3rd applicant) for the Yala/Ogoga Federal Constituency election in the state electronically or manually.

They urged the court to declare that by virtue of Section 31 of the Electoral Act 2022, INEC has no power to reject the name of its candidate.

In the affidavit filed to support the motion, the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Abayomi Arabambi, averred that Ogar emerged as candidate for the constituency in the substitution primary held on July 14 in Cross River.

“That the 3rd applicant is a member of the 1st applicant that emerged from a congress held and monitored by the officers of the respondent in Cross River State on the 14th of July, 2022.

“That I was informed by my solicitor, Monday Mawah, that by the new Electoral Act, political parties are to change their candidates upon death or withdrawal of any of the candidates.

“That the party concerned is to write notice of such withdrawal to the respondent.

“That the 1st applicant did write notice of the withdrawal to the respondent. Photocopy of the withdrawal notice dated on the 8th day of July, 2022 is herewith attached and marked as Exhibit ‘B’.

“That the new Electoral Act allows party affected to submit the lists of such candidate(s) to the respondent not later than 90 days before the date appointed for the election.

“That I know as a fact that the election is still well over 90 days from today.

“That while we were trying to submit or enter the name of the 3rd applicant in the site of the respondent, the entire system of the respondent crashed and as a result, we could not submit the name of 3rd applicant.

“That attempt to submit same proved abortive,” Arabambi said.

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