Saturday, 8 December 2012

It’s Fight To The Finish; delisted parties Tell INEC

The chapter on the 28 political parties delisted on Thursday by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is not closed as leaders of the affected parties have threatened to use both political, legal and other measures to seek to void the action.

In interviews with LEADERSHIP WEEKEND on the matter yesterday, elder statesman and founder of the National Advance Party (NAP), Dr.Tunji Braithwaite, National Chairman of People Redemption Party (PRP), Alhaji Abdukadir Balarabe Musa, the presidential candidate of the Fresh Democratic Party (FDP) in the last general election, Pastor Chris Okotie and the National Chairman, National Conscience Party (NCP), Dr. Yunisa Tanko, said INEC led by Prof. Attahiru Jega, had bitten more than it can chew.

While Braithwaite spoke to LEADERSHIP WEEKEND on telephone, Okotie issued a statement signed by his media aide, Mr. Ladi Ayodeji.

The delisting of the parties may lead to the end of the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP), the umbrella body of most of the opposition parties in the country.Balarabe Musa heads the CNPP.

Braithwaite said the move was a pre-emptive one by INEC, which he accused of acting a script from the federal government to deregister the parties. He added that the delisting of the parties was carried out to pave the way for President Goodluck Jonathan and the members of the National Assembly to elongate their tenure.

Braithwaite however, ruled out the possibility of taking the commission to court on the issue, saying, “This is a political issue and not a legal one. We will approach it politically.”

He said: “The delisting of the political parties by INEC is a non-issue. It is an illegality ab-initio. More importantly, I want the Nigerian people to know that the action is a grand conspiracy against the people. They (government officials) know that the ongoing constitutional amendment is not popular with the people who have since seen through their antics. They want to use it for tenure elongation for both the president and members of the National Assembly.”

Balarabe Musa said the delisting of his party and others was a calculated attempt to further compound the sufferings of most Nigerians.

He asserted that INEC’s action violated Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution as amended, which did not permit it to delist a registered political party. “To refer you to the case of National Conscience Party, (NCP), a case was filed before a Lagos High Court challenging its registration. NCP obtained an injunction stopping INEC from delisting NCP. Other political parties joined the case and the matter is still on.”

Alhaji Balarebe Musa further disclosed that the action of INEC was a disparate plan to frustrate any party that was opposed to the federal government. According to him, the electoral body ought to be independent but the reverse is the case in Nigeria.

”Lets remind you that some weeks ago, INEC went before the National Assembly to give it power to delist any political party or candidates from contesting election. The commission did not wait for the passing of the law before it started delisting political parties.”

The PRP national leader added that what INEC had done violated some provisions of the Electoral Act of 2010 as amended.

He disclosed that the action was primarily against any party that was considered a threat to the government of the day. “We all know that it is only the PRP that is not in support of the government’s privatisation and commercialisation policy because it is not in the interest of the Nigerian masses.

All other parties including the ruling PDP are in support of the policy, so they see our stand as a threat and the only option available to them is to deregister our party. But they forget that in 1983 when the then

National (NPN) rigged the election and humiliated leaders like the late Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Senator J .S. Tarka and others, we put on our thinking cap and came out with a decision to make our party not only political for the purpose of only contesting election only but also a movement because we saw a situation that politics in Nigeria will be for money bags and their stooges.”

Alhaji Balarabe Musa said PRP would go to court and fight its case to the highest court in the land. He called on all supporters of PRP to remain firm as this is just one of the plans of the federal government to frustrate Nigerians.

Okotie, in the statement, said the action was an affront on the constitution of the country, adding that, “it runs contrary to the judgment of the Court of Appeal on the issue.

“We condemn and reject this unilateral and anti-democratic action which is designed to further shut out the opposition from the democratic space;” the statement reads.

Unlike Braithwaite, Okotie expressed his resolve to seek legal redress in the court of law.

“You will recall that the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division in an appeal filed by the Peoples Redemption Party and others on the issue of registration, stated succinctly and unambiguously that INEC had no power to refuse to register a party that has fulfilled the required constitutional provision; and by extension no power whatsoever to de-register a party that has fulfilled all constitutional stipulations.” Okotie said.

He also said that INEC erred by refusing to base its decision on the constitution but relying solely on the Electoral Act 2010, which he said runs foul of the constitution.

Tanko stated that the decision of INEC amounted to holding the law courts in contempt.

He added that the action of the commission was an infringement of the fundamental human rights of citizens who belong to his party as well as running against the laws of the country.

Tanko stated that the commission erred as there is an ongoing case in a Lagos High Court between INEC, the NCP and many other political parties, on the issue of de-registration of political parties.

Maintaining that INEC was not above the law, he added that “injury to one is injury to all, Nigerians are now being disenfranchised by INEC, this is unacceptable, the law court will interpret this again,” he said.
Echoing the same sentiment, the Progressive Action Congress (PAC) National Chairman, Mr. Charles

Nwodo, said that the action of INEC was a “mockery of the Nation’s democracy.”

Nwodo said INEC took the decision without inputs from affected parties saying, “We are going to test our strength again at the court of law. It is against the law of the land and undemocratic to de-register 28 parties, who knows how many will follow,” he said.



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