FactCheck: Are Nigerians Allowed to Use Their Temporary Voter Cards to Vote on March 18?

Aanuoluwatomiwa Oke

Claim

An online news platform, Naija News House  recently published a report claiming that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is set to allow the use of Temporary Voter Cards (TVCs) in the March 18 gubernatorial and house of assembly elections.

Verdict

The claim is misleading.

Full Text

An online news platform, Naija News House recently published a report claiming that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is set to allow the use of Temporary Voter Cards (TVCs) in the March 18 elections. 

According to Naija News House, “the Federal High Court, Abuja on Thursday, ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to allow the use of Temporary Voter Cards (TVCs) in the March 18 gubernatorial and state houses of assembly elections.”

Among other things, the report stated that Justice Obiora Egwuatu made the order while delivering judgment in a suit filed by two aggrieved Nigerians seeking the use of TVCs in the general elections in the absence of the Permanent Voter Cards, PVCs. Justice Egwuatu said that the order was made on the grounds that the plaintiffs were duly registered and captured in INEC’S database.

“An order is made compelling the defendant (INEC) to allow the plaintiffs to vote using their Temporary Voter Cards issued by the defendant, the plaintiffs having been duly captured in the National Register of Voter’s database. A declaration is made by this court that the plaintiffs, having fulfilled all necessary legal requirements to register and having consequently been captured in the defendant’s (INEC’s) central database and manual, printed paper based record or hard copy format of the defendant’s maintained Register of Voters, the plaintiffs are entitled to vote using their Temporary Voter Cards in the forthcoming 2023 General Election,” the judge said.

Verification

In a bid to verify the claim, FactCheckElections made an investigation into INEC’s stance on the matter. 

We found out that INEC had repeatedly held that only eligible voters with the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) would be allowed to vote in the 2023 presidential, gubernatorial and parliamentary elections.

But the verdict of the court directing INEC to allow the use of Temporary Voter Cards (TVCs) in the March 18 Elections is directed only in favour of Kofoworola Olusegun and Wilson Allwell — the two plaintiffs.

They had filed a suit on February 8 challenging the position of INEC and asking the court to among other things determine “whether a person whose name appears in the electronic format in INEC’s central database and manual, printed paper based record or hard copy format of the register of voters and has been assigned a Voter’s Identification Number can be said to be entitled to be accredited to vote with his/her TVC in the general election to be conducted by the defendant.”

In its ruling on Thursday, the court held that there was no portion of the law, both the 1999 Constitution and the Electoral Act that states that it is only PVCs that could be used, but that the law under Section 47 provided for a voter’s card.

Justice Egwuatu also ruled that having fulfilled all necessary legal requirements to register and having consequently been captured in INEC’s central database and manual, printed paper-based record or hard copy format, the plaintiffs are entitled to vote using their TVC in the forthcoming 2023 general election and “an order is made compelling the defendant to allow the plaintiffs to vote using their Temporary Voter Cards issued by the defendant”.

However the judge refused to grant the request of the plaintiffs to allow every eligible voter with a TVC to vote because “the suit was not filed in a representative capacity.”

In its reaction, the commission said in a tweet last night that it has been served a copy of the judgement and it is taking immediate steps to appeal against the judgement of the trial court.

Conclusion

FactCheckElections can confirm that the claim is misleading. Only the two plaintiffs and not Nigerians have been allowed by the Federal High Court in Abuja to vote in the March 18 gubernatorial and house of assembly election.

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