A lawyer, Mike Enahoro-Ebah, has sued the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over its alleged refusal to furnish him with the certified true copies (CTCs) of Bola Tinubu’s presidential nomination forms.
Mr Tinubu is vying for the Nigerian presidency in the 2023 election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Mr Enahoro-Ebah, in a motion ex-parte application filed on 5 August at the Federal High Court, Abuja, sued INEC as the sole respondent in the matter.
In the application marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1337/2022, the lawyer sought 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…submitted to…INEC…by… Bola Ahmed Tinubu, for the 1999 and 2003 Governorship Elections in Lagos State.”
The leave of court is a prerequisite for a such suit to commence fully. If the court, in the exercise of its discretion, refuses to grant the applicant the leave, it will mark the end of the suit.
The applicant seeks to ask 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… it by and on behalf of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, for the 2023 Presidential Election in Nigeria.”
Mr Enahoro-Ebah said he had applied for the documents through his letters of 13 July and 22 July 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, to no avail.
Grounds of application
The plaintiff based his request for Mr Tinubu’s credentials on the grounds that they are in the custody of INEC and thereby have become public documents which he has a right conferred on him by Section 29 (4) of the Electoral Act, 2022 and Section 1 (1) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.
ALSO READ: ANALYSIS: What prices of APC nomination forms say about Buhari’s anti-corruption campaign
“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 lawyer argued in his filings.
“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.
Mr Enahoro-Ebah urged the court to declare that the failure of INEC to furnish him with the CTCs of the public documents in its custody amount 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 case is yet to be assigned to a judge.
Support PREMIUM TIMES’ journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: Call Willie – +2348098788999