The decision by the independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to deregister 74 political parties has been challenged by the Inter Party Advisory Council of Nigeria (IPAC) who called on the commission to immediately reverse its decision.
The council made the call in Abuja, in a statement by its National Legal Adviser, Mr Ezeobika Chukwudi.
Chukwudi described INEC action as an affront on the judiciary, an abuse of the Court Process and a conscious disregard for the rule of law.
He said that IPAC viewed with serious concerns, the decision by INEC deregistering 74 political parties without observing the provisions of the law.
“The IPAC is aware of an action instituted at the Federal High Court by 33 political Parties, who are members of the Council in Suit Number FHC/ABJ/CS/444/2019 filed at the Federal High Court, Abuja seeking amongst other things, an Order restraining INEC from deregistering concerned political Parties pending the determination of the Suit. Chukwudi did not name the parties that sued INEC.
“The Federal High Court, upon hearing the motion for an interlocutory Injunction on the Jan. 23, 2020, adjourned for ruling on Feb. 17, 2020.
“It is however reprehensible on the part of INEC to take such decision, which is an affront on the judiciary, an abuse of the Court Process and a conscious disregard for the Rule of law.
“By the action purportedly taken by INEC today, the Council is of a firm view that INEC as an institution no longer has regards or respect for the rule of law in Nigeria and has lost the confidence of political parties in the political affairs of the nation.
“The Council hereby calls on INEC to immediately reverse the purported decision in order not to infringe on the rights of political parties as guaranteed under the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As amended) By the Provisions of Sections 221 – 229, no provision is inferior or superior to the other.”
Chukwudi said that Section 229 defines a political party to include an association whose activities shall include canvassing for votes in support of a candidate for election into a Local Government Council.
He said that INEC as a responsible institution ought to have waited until elections were held in all 774 LGAs and 8,809 Electoral Wards in Nigeria, after the signing of the 4th Alteration to the Constitution on June 4, 2018, before assuming that a party had not won any elective position.
“It is however imperative to state that we must, as individuals or agencies of government, be careful not to foist a fait accompli on the Court.
“It is important to re-emphasise the fact that 33 political parties, who are members of the Council, moved a motion in Court 3, at the Federal High Court in Abuja for an Order of interlocutory injunction restraining INEC from deregistering the concerned political Parties, pending the determination of the Suit.
“The court adjourned for Ruling on Feb. 17, 2020 but the INEC proceeded in error to foist a state of helplessness on the court.
“This is an affront on the judiciary and must be discouraged.
The Council calls on INEC to listen to the voice of reason and immediately reverse itself on this action.”
INEC had deregistered 74 out of Nigeria’s 92 political parties for their dismal performance in the 2019 general elections.