A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the service of processes on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and two others in a suit to stop the commission’s preparations for future elections especially in Osun and Ekiti States.
Justice Ibrahim Auta who refused an ex-parte application by the plaintiff, ordered a service of the processes on the defendants in the suit to enable them file their defence.
The suit was instituted by a firm, Bedding Holdings Limited (BHL), against INEC, its Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) as defendants.
The plaintiff argued that the defendants must comply with the court’s earlier judgment of January 28, and should stop using its patented process of applying the Direct Data Capturing (DDC) machines for voters’ registration for INEC’s continuous voters’ registration exercise preparatory to the governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun States and the 2015 general election.
The court had in the judgment on January 28 held among others, that BHL possessed a valid and subsisting patent right over the process of using DDC machines for voters’ registration; awarded N17.3billion in damages against INEC, Jega and others for right infringement and ordered that subsequent application of the process must be with the firm’s consent.
INEC did not comply with any of the orders made by the court.
This prompted BHL to return to the court with a fresh application.
BHL further contended that INEC and others had not only declined to comply with the judgment, they had commenced the deployment of its patented process for voter’s registration as part of preparation for the governorship elections in Ekiti, Osun States and next year’s general election.
The company wants the court to determine among others, whether, by the combined interpretation of the provisions of sections 2, 3(3), 19,25 and 26 of the Patent and Design Act 2004 and the subsisting judgment of January 28, the defendants could deploy its patented process for its continuous voters’ registration exercise without the plaintiff’s prior consent.
It is seeking an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants and their agents from further infringing on its patent rights by embarking on the voters’ registration or production of voters’ register in preparation for future elections without first obtaining it’s consent.
It asked the court to nullify the voters’ register produced by the defendants, using its patented
process, without its consent.
BHL wants the court to declare that the continuous voters’ registration exercise being carried out by INEC in preparation for future elections, without its (plaintiff’s) prior consent amounts to an infringement of its patent rights.
It asked the court to declare that by virtue of the provisions of sections 2, 3(3), 19,25 and 26 of the Patent and Design Act and the January 28 judgment, the defendants cannot use the plaintiff’s patented process for its voters’ registration exercise.
In a supporting affidavit, BHL’s Chief Executive Officer, Sylvester Odigie, stated that this was not the first time INEC and its Chairman would violate the court’s judgment.
He cited the continuous unathorised usage of his company’s patented collapsible and transparent ballot boxes by INEC and Jega despite a subsisting judgment given on May 28,2013 by Justice Adamu Bello, upholding BHL’s patent rights over the ballot boxes.
Hearing in the suit has been fixed for April 30.