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Card Reader Malfunction Cannot Void Election – Appeal Court

INEC new chairThe Court of Appeal in Lagos has held that a malfunctioning card reader cannot be ground for invalidating an election.

The court held that the Electoral Act (2010) does not recognise the malfunctioning of a card reader as one of the factors that can lead to the nullification of an election because the Act predates the introduction of the card reader.

The Court of Appeal in its verdict on a cross-appeal filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) challenging parts of the Governorship Election Tribunal’s verdict in the case of Jimi Agbaje versus Akinwunmi Ambode and others.

APC had filed the cross-appeal based on two grounds. First, it said the tribunal erred in law when, having held that Paragraph 14 of Agbaje’s petition challenged Ambode’s nomination, went ahead to hold that it was a valid ground.

The party said any complaint about a pre-election issue falls within the jurisdiction of the Federal or Lagos State High Court, therefore, the tribunal ought to have declined jurisdiction.

The party also asked that Agbaje’s petition be struck out because its paragraph 13b which complained about faulty card readers did not qualify as a ground to challenge the April 11 election.

The Court of Appeal, in a judgment by Justice Obande Festus Ogbuinya, resolved the first issue in favour of Agbaje and PDP, and the second issue in APC’s favour.

A copy of the judgment, delivered on August 26, was obtained by our correspondent on Monday. Other justices on the panel were A. J. Abdulkadir, Mohammed Danjuma, Emmanuel Agim and Saidu Hussaini.

Agbaje, PDP, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Ambode and the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) were the cross-respondents.

The appellate court held that both the High courts and the tribunal have concurrent jurisdiction over the issue of a candidate’s qualification/disqualification.

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