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Court voids conduct of Ebonyi 2013 LG polls

Published by Tribune on Sun, 07 Sep 2014

AN appeal court sitting in Enugu, on Friday, declared as void the open ballot system of voting used by the Ebonyi State government in the conduct of the 2013 local government election in the state.In a unanimous judgement by the three justices of the court, delivered by Justice Emmanuel Akomaye Agim, the court upheld the appeal brought by Mr Peter Nwali, for enforcement of his fundamental right to privacy.The court held that the use of the open ballot system of voting, adopted by the Ebonyi State Independent Electoral Commission (EBSIEC) in the conduct of the 2013 council polls, was a violation of the right of the applicant and other voters to the privacy of who they vote for in an election, as guaranteed by section 37 of Nigerian 1999 Constitution as amended.Accordingly, the appeal court set aside part of the ruling of the federal high court sitting at Abakaliki,by Justice Maureen Oyetenu, delivered on 20th September 2013 that dismissed the appellant suit.The court subsequently restrained the EBSIEC from using the open ballot system of voting to conduct any other local government election in Ebonyi State in future.It further averred that the state shall continue using the open secret method of voting prescribed in the state electoral and related matters law no 9 of 2007 in future elections.Others joined in the suit are the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, the (INEC) State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), and the Ebonyi State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice.Reacting to the ruling, the Ebonyi State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Barr Ben Igwenyi, said that the state government would head to the Supreme Court to challenge the judgement.In his reaction, counsel to the appellant, Mr Peter Nwali, Barr Godwin Onwusi, said that the judgement has nullified totally the use of the open ballot system of voting in the conduct of election in Ebonyi State.
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