From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
A legal practitioner, Mike Enahoro-Ebah, has dragged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to court over its alleged refusal to furnish him with the certified true copies (CTCs) of the nominations forms submitted by the All Progressives Congress (APC)’s 2023 presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, to it in the previous and forthcoming elections.
In a motion on ex-parte dated and filed August 5 at the Abuja Federal High Court, Enahoro-Ebah listed INEC as sole respondent in the matter.
The lawyer in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1337/2022, the lawyer sought for an order granting him leave to apply for judicial review of an order of mandamus directing or compelling INEC to furnish him with the CTCs of the “nomination forms for governor and affidavits in support of personal particulars and all other documents attached thereto, submitted to the respondent by and on behalf of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, for the 1999 and 2003 Governorship Elections in Lagos State.”
The applicant also asked the court to compel the electoral umpire to release to him the CTCs of the “Nomination Forms EC13A, EC 9, Affidavits and all other documents submitted to the respondent by and on behalf of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, for the 2023 Presidential Election in Nigeria.”
He said he had applied for the documents through his letters of July 13 and July 22 to INEC In compliance with Section 29 (4) of the Electoral Act, 2022; Section 1 (1) & (3); Section 2 (6) and Section 7 (4) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
In a four grounds giving for his application, the lawyer argued that his request for the CTCs of public documents in custody and possession of INEC is a right conferred and established by Section 29 (4) of the Electoral Act, 2022 and Section 1 (1) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
“The mandatory statutory duration of 14 (Fourteen) days within which the respondent is to issue CTCs of the requested public documents in its custody and possession, according to Section 29 (4) of the Electoral Act, 2022, has lapsed, therefore, the respondent is deemed to have refused to accede to applicant’s request/application.
“The right of access to public documents in custody and possession of the respondent is inclusive of the right to institute civil proceedings in court to compel the respondent to issue same documents to anyone who applies for same, as established in Section 29 (4) of the Electoral Act, 2022, and Section 1 (3), Section 2 (6) and Section 7 (4) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
“The public documents sought from the respondent are connected one way or another to election and the sui generis nature of it means time is of the essence,” he said.
Enahoro-Ebah, therefore, urged the court to declare that the failure of INEC to furnish him with the CTCs of the public documents in its custody through his letters of July 13 and July 22 within 14 days of application amounted to a breach of Section 29(4) of the Electoral Act, 2022 and a wrongful denial of information under the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
The matter is yet to be assigned to a judge as at the time of the report.