DEREGISTERATION : PARTIES HEAD TO COURT

…join us, ADP tells affected parties

Chieftains of some of the political parties that were deregistered yesterday by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), have described the commission’s action as an exercise in futility.

Those who spoke with our correspondents on the development threatened to seek legal redress as according to them, the electoral umpire lacks the power to take such action.

Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who announced the deregistration of the parties, yesterday, at a press conference in Abuja, said the decision of the commission was in line with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as well as the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).

Yakubu said before taking the action, the commission carried out a review of the performance of the 92 political parties after the 2019 general election to ascertain the ones that qualify to continue to exist.

But, National Chairman of United Progressive Party (UPP), Chief Chekwas Okorie, who described the development as a “rude shock.” said the party’s leadership will meet as soon as possible on the next line of action.

His words: “The news came to us as a rude shock, but we are yet to get a letter from INEC to explain how it arrived at the decision to deregister us and what we did that was not in accordance with the Constitution and Electoral Act that warranted that.

“But, while we waiting for such letter, I will convene an emergency meeting of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party on how to respond to the development.”

On whether INEC has the power to take such decision, Okorie said: “The fact remains that there is a provision in the Electoral Act specifying a number of things that a party would have failed to do before it could be deregistered and those things include not winning elections at the local government, state and federal levels.

“But one of the reasons for which a party should not be deregistered is having a functional national secretariat. That is why INEC’s action is a rude shock for us because they visited our national secretariat even as we maintain presence in 29 out of the 36 state, including the Federal Capital Territory. So, we will meet and take a decision on the way forward because 74 parties that were affected is quite a number.”

National Chairman and presidential candidate of the National Conscience Party (NCP) in the 2019 elections, Dr. Yinusa Tanko, described INEC’s action as an attempt to strangulate up and coming political parties.

He said: “The decision was hasty because INEC with its position tried to avert the court decision that all of us are in. We are already in court with the commission and a verdict is supposed to be given on February 18. But INEC did not wait for that particular court decision before it went ahead and deregistered the political parties. But, as far I am concerned, the decision doesn’t make sense.

“We are aware that about 100 political associations are already lined up for registration and you deregistered 74. Whether INEC like it or not, according to the constitution, those 100 political associations as long as they meet up with the criteria, they would be registered. What sense does it make to deregister the 74 political parties?

“So, for us, we condemn this particular act. We think it is an attempt to strangulate the up and coming political parties, which have not been given the opportunity to assess their performance. We, therefore, hope and call on INEC to reverse its position because definitely we will seek redress in the court of law.”

Secretary General of Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP), Chief Willy Ezugwu, on his part, also described INEC’s action as unconstitutional.

He said: “It is unconstitutional for INEC to deregister political parties. You will recall that the commission did the same at a time, but the affected parties went to court and got judgement, which declared INEC’s action null and void. I don’t know the kind of country we live in; we keep making the same mistakes all the time. Are we in a Banana Republic that people and institutions will just wake and do whatever they like?

“How can INEC that is still registering political parties on one hand, is on another hand, deregistering others? If the commission wants to deregister political parties for any reason, it should go to the National Assembly to amend the relevant provisions of the constitution on freedom of association and registration of political parties.

“Until the commission does this, it lacks the power to deregister any political party and I am assuring you that the affected parties will go to court to upturn whatever INEC has done.” 

However, the Action Democratic Party (ADP), in its reaction, called on members and leaders of the deregistred parties to join its fold, saying that the party is a home for all.

The party in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Adejare Adeoye, said ADP remains the only credible alternative political party to the two dominant parties in Nigeria.

“At this time, all those in the defunct and delisted parties must not feel like they have no place to go to because ADP is the party they should consider and they will be well treated when they join,” he stated.

ADP praised her members nationwide, who participated in the verification exercise, which showed that the party is not just a mere party on paper, but very strong at the grassroots across the 774 local government areas in the country.

The party charged all leaders and members of the need to double their efforts in attracting more members and prominent Nigerians to ensure that ADP is not just there to provide alternative, but to take charge of leadership at the center come 2023 because it has what it takes to produce the next president and governors.

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