UNFAVOURABLE COURT JUDGEMENT VALIDATING DEREGISTRATION OF SPN ALONG WITH 31 OTHER POLITICAL PARTIES SHALL NOT DETER US
THE SPN SHALL APPEAL THIS JUDGMENT AND EMBARK ON POLITICAL STRUGGLE TO DEFEND OUR RIGHT TO EXISTENCE AS A POLITICAL PARTY
The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) shall not be deterred in our quest to stand for the working class and downtrodden by the recent unfavourable judgement by Justice Anwuli Chikere of the Federal High Court (FHC) delivered on Thursday June 11, 2020 in a case brought before it by the SPN and 31 political parties to determine INEC’s right to deregister political parties.
We will take all necessary steps towards appealing this judgement. As far as we are concerned, this judgement is unjust, unfair and undemocratic to the millions of working class, youth and poor voters who do not find themselves represented by the ruling APC, PDP and other pro-rich parties because of their anti-poor and capitalist policies.
But more than this, we shall also commence a political campaign comprising sensitisation activities, petitioning and public demonstrations to mobilise our members, supporters and a broad spectrum of working and toiling people of Nigeria whose right to political choice has been attacked through the deregistration of the SPN and other parties.
The SPN and 31 other political parties had instituted the case in October 2019 before the INEC’s decision to deregister 74 political parties (SPN inclusive) on February 6, 2020. The purport of the case was to defend the rights of SPN and other political parties to exist and prevent the further shrinking of the democratic space through a fraudulent constitution amendment exercise spearheaded by the Bukola Saraki leadership of the National Assembly which smuggled an amendment of the electoral law giving sweeping powers to INEC to deregister political parties that do not win any seat at Local Government, State and Federal levels.
On February 17 2020, Justice Anwuli Chikere granted an injunction against INEC through an ex-parte order sought after by the SPN and 31 political parties pending the determination of the suit. The same court suddenly found out that INEC’s actions are in conformity with the provision of Section 225 (A) of the 1999 constitution. This is despite the fact that the said Section 225 clearly outlines that deregistration of any political party shall be based on their performance in the 3 legs of elections in Nigeria – the local, state and federal elections. As everyone knows, there is hardly any state that has conducted local government elections since the 2019 general elections. This means alleging any political party of poor performance based on the outcome of two legs of elections, while the 3rd which is the local government election is yet to be held in a majority of states across the federation, is rather preposterous, unjust and a contradiction to section 225 of the 1999 constitution (As amended).
We expect that the same “all or none” principle that applies to the registration of a political party should equally apply to the deregistration. By this we mean, that since a political organisation cannot be registered as a party until it fulfils all the conditions stipulated in the constitution for registration, we equally hold that same political party should not stand the risk for deregistration until it is found culpable of the conditions for deregistration as stipulated in the constitution.
Besides, we hold that the deregistration of the SPN on the basis of performance in 2019 general elections shows the hypocritical nature of the capitalist electoral process and the pro-rich bias of INEC. The 2019 general elections were adjudged by local and international monitors and observers to have been riddled by votes buying, violence and manipulations.
The run-up to elections was filled with expensive campaign activities like adverts on billboards, radio, television and newspapers, rent-a-crowd rallies and arming of gangs and thugs. In a particular incidence during the elections, two bullion vans were reported to have been sighted in the mansion of Ahmed Bola Tinubu, a leader of the ruling party. On the day of the presidential/national assembly and also the governorship/state assembly elections, the ruling APC and PDP reportedly spent nothing less than N400, 000 per polling units to induce voters and election officials in polling units monitored by our party.
It is this highly monetized and rigged 2019 general election that INEC has based its undemocratic decision to deregister the SPN. What this means logically therefore is that what INEC is punishing SPN for is its unwillingness to play the game of election manipulations and rigging by buying votes and arming thugs to hijack electoral materials or intimidate voters.
No wonder, none of the candidates of the ruling APC and PDP who spent beyond the legally approved campaign funds limits as well as those who benefitted from rigging and monetisation has been punished or sanctioned. Neither have the ruling APC and PDP been sanctioned for their activities during the 2019 general elections which contravene different aspects of the electoral law. This underscores the bias of the INEC towards pro-rich parties and their calculated agenda to ensure pro-workers and pro-poor parties like SPN are not on the ballot in future elections.
Nevertheless, the deregistration of the SPN does not come as a surprise. It was always clear that a political party that professes to stand for the ideas and programmes of socialism in contrast to the anti-poor and neo-liberal capitalist policies of the ruling PDP and APC would constantly face challenges including conspiracy to wipe it off the ballot. It took three years of legal challenge and political campaign and international solidarity for INEC to register the SPN in the first place. Especially now that capitalism is facing an unprecedented economic crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, the capitalist ruling elite is in panic and would take any action to protect the system. Even though still a small party with limited influence, the capitalist ruling elite do not want to take chances with a party professing socialism on the ballot in 2023 general elections.
To this extent, we urge our members and supporters to continue to stand firm. We call on the labour movement and pro-masses organisations to publicly condemn the deregistration of the SPN and others. More than this, we challenge the labour movement to join forces with the SPN and other pro-masses organisations to build a mass party of workers and poor masses and a mass movement to topple capitalism and enthrone a workers and poor people’s government on socialist policies.
Acting National Chairperson