11th February, 2015
The last may not have been heard of the postponement of the general elections from the earlier scheduled dates of 14th and 28th February, for the Presidential and governorship elections respectively, by the Independent National Election Commission, INEC, as a political party; Hope Democratic Party, HDP, had dragged the electoral body, President Goodluck Jonathan, the Chief if Defence Staff and the National Security Adviser, before a federal high court siting in Abuja over that postponement.
Also joined as co-defendants in the suit is the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice. Hope Democratic Party is one of the registered political parties participating in the 2015 general election.
In the originating summon filed by the party’s counsel, Mr. Okechukwu Ehogwu, the party is asking the court to declare that the postponement of the scheduled February 14 Presidential election was not in conformity with the provisions of the law since there was no natural disaster or natural emergency.
The party also contend that the letter of information issued to the electoral body by the Chief of Defence Staff and the National Security Adviser, dated 3rd February, 2015 conveying the security agencies’ inability to guarantee security for Nigerians during the scheduled polls, does not qualify as a natural disaster or emergency that could warrant election postponement.
Hope Democratic Party which is parading its own Presidential candidate for the polls also wants the court to hold that INEC was not under any duty or bound to obey or comply with any unverified or cogent reasons to postpone scheduled election in the absence of a natural disaster and urged the court to declare that INEC, as an electoral umpire, is at liberty to device, arrange and procure any security arrangement or regional co-operation from within or outside the country, to ensure a hitch-free election at scheduled general elections.
The party therefore urged the court to grant an order restraining the Chief of Defence Staff, President Jonathan and the AGF from further interfering in the party’s right to participate in an election and to also stop the usurpation of powers of INEC under any guise.
The court was also asked to order the Attorney General to direct that due provisions of adequate securities by the civil authorities and other civil defence agencies with responsibilities of providing internal securities for the conduct of election by INEC.
In an 18 – paragraph affidavit in support of the originating summon, sworn to by one Mr Anderson Chike, the political party averred that the grounds of postponing the February 14 elections by INEC were not cogent and verifiable reasons as required by law which stipulates only natural disaster and natural emergencies.
It also averred that the internal security including that of election duties are undertaken by Police and other civil authorities and not the military whose roles in elections are limited and complimentary in the event of major internal crisis.
The affidavit further claimed that the involvement of the Chief of Defence Staff and NSA in purely civil duties is wrong and reasons so adduced only exposes INEC to future vulnerability of mis-chief and abuse of military and intelligential powers in favour of themselves and their benefactors.
HDP also contended that INEC is required only to stick strictly to the constitutional and electoral laws to avoid intended obvious mischief and truncation of the nascent democracy and stated that the justice of the matter requires a due interpretation and construction of the sections of the relevant statutes and law to restore Nigerians’ trust in the conduct of future elections in the country and curb undue interferences to the duties of the electoral body.
It insists that unless the defendants are reprimanded and restrained from further violation and whimsical application of the laws and interferences thereof, their actions may inadvertently lead to unimaginable crisis in the polity and the country at large especially where foreign observers and citizens have adjusted and prepared for the elections as scheduled.
No date has been fixed for hearing of the suit.