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Court rejects request seeking to stop census

THE Federal High Court, Abuja, today, declined a request seeking an order of court to stop the 2023 Census slated to hold from May 3 to May 5.

Justice Inyang Ekwo refused to grant the application and instead asked the applicant, Omotuyi Ademola to put the defendant, the National Population Commission, (NPC) on notice.

According to Justice Ekwo, counsel to the applicant has moved a motion for an interim injunction to stop the conduct of the 2023 Census.

“However, on considering the motion, I am of the opinion that the defendants should be put on notice.”

The judge therefore made an order directing the counsel to the applicant, Mr Victor Opatola to put the NPC on notice for the commission to appear in court and show cause why the applicant’s motion should not be granted.

He adjourned the matter until May 5 for the defendant to show cause.

Omotuyi, in his ex parte application, prayed the court for an order postponing the fourth coming census for six months.

This, he said was to ensure adequate preparation, publicity and adequate funding for the commission.

He also asked for a declaration that the NPC currently lacked effective preparation and adequate publicity towards the conduct of a credible, effective and constitutional census in the country.

He further asked for a declaration that the commission was currently underfunded and thus unprepared to conduct a credible, effective and constitutional census.

The applicant also asked for any further order as the court may deem fit and proper to make in the circumstances of the case.

Omotuyi had set out two questions for determination by the court.

“Whether by a true interpretation and construction of the 1999 Constitution and Section 6 of the National Population Commission Act, the aim, intent, importance and purpose of the 2023 Census will not be defeated for lack of adequate preparation, lack of adequate awareness and publicity and paucity of funds.

“Whether if the above is in the affirmative, it will not lead to an exacerbated undercount and inefficiency of the census purpose.”

In a related motion, the court granted an application seeking permission to apply for judicial review of a Freedom of Information, (FOI), request made to the NPC.

Rhoda Aransiola who made the application on behalf of her client, Victor Opatola said the application became necessary when the commission refused to grant the request made by her client under the FOI Act.

Justice Ekwo asked Aransiola to file the application within seven days.

He adjourned the matter until May 25 for hearing.

In the application, Opatola is praying the court for an order granting him leave to apply for an order of mandamus compelling the NPC to furnish him with information concerning the forth coming 2023 General Census.

“A comprehensive and detailed information concerning the Quality Test Assurance report on the devices and technology to be deployed by the commission towards the coming 2023 General Census until Judgment is delivered in this case within 7 days of the delivery of judgment.

“An order granting leave to the applicant to apply for an order of mandamus compelling the defendant to furnish him with comprehensive and detailed information concerning any conflict of interest in the allotment of contracts or jobs given by or to contractors towards the coming 2023 General Census until judgment is delivered in this case within 7 days of the delivery of judgment.”

The applicant is also seeking an order granting him leave to apply for an order of mandamus compelling the defendant to furnish him with comprehensive and detailed information concerning Information on the funds received so far by the Commission towards the conduct of 2023 Census.

He further asked the court for a declaration that the refusal by the defendant to release the information or record requested amounted to a violation of Section 7 (1) and 4 (a) & (b) of the Freedom of Information Act and the action was illegal and unconstitutional. (NAN)

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