Fringe parties sue INEC

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Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was on Tuesday dragged to a Federal High Court in Abuja by Better Nigeria Progressive Party and 51 other political parties on threat to deregister them.

The political parties also joined the Attorney-General of the Federation and the National Assembly as the 1st and 2nd defendants, respectively.

The suit was mentioned before Justice Gabriel Kolawole.

Mr Kan Osieke, Counsel to the plaintiffs, is seeking a declaration that Section 78 (7) (ii) of the Electoral Act 2011 as amended is unconstitutional and in effect, null and void.

Osieke is also seeking a declaration that Section 78 (7) (ii) of the Electoral Act 2011 as amended is a calculated attempt to suffocate life from young enterprising and growing political parties from growing.

He described it as an attempt to stop the 52 parties from participating in Nigerian politics.

Osieke is asking the court for a declaration that the said Section 78 (7) (ii) of the Electoral Act 2011 as amended be expunged as same offends Section 40 of the 2011 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, which is a light to other Laws, Acts, Rules and Regulations.

The Counsel is asking for a declaration that the plaintiffs have the right to belong to any political party of their choice, work hard for them to grow after being duly registered according to law.

The plaintiffs have urged the Court to determine whether INEC has the powers to deregister them.

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Specifically, the plaintiffs in the statement of questions, wanted the court to determine “whether INEC could deregister a party which had fulfilled and satisfied all requirements of registration.

They had asked the Court to determine whether the parties could just be deregistered on the grounds that they failed to win a seat in the Presidential, Governorship, National or State Assembly 2011 elections.

They had further asked the court to determine, among other questions, whether a party that won local government elections could still be de-registered having not satisfied Section 78 (7) (ii) of the Electoral Act 2011.

The National Assembly, in its notice of preliminary objection, said that the plaintiffs lacked the requisite locus standi to file the case.

It also stated that the court lacked the jurisdiction to hear and determine the case.

It further noted that there was no existing law known as Electoral Act, 2011 upon which the suit was premised.

In view of the above arguments, the National Assembly urged the court to strike out or dismiss the suit for lacking in merit.

The Judge adjourned the matter to 25 October for hearing.

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