APPEAL COURT UPHOLDS REGISTRATION OF SPN: NEC Refusal to Obey Judgment is Undemocratic
SPN Calls for National and International Solidarity
On the 10th August 2020, the five-member panel of the Court of Appeal led by Monica Dongban-Mensen in a unanimous judgment nullified the deregistration of Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) and 21 other deregistered political parties and ordered Prof. Mahmood Yakubu-led INEC to relist them as recognized political parties. The judgment has rendered null and void the unfavourable judgment delivered on June 12, 2020 by Justice Anwuli Chikere of the Federal High Court in Abuja in a suit filed by the SPN and 30 other political parties which affirmed the power of INEC under Section 225 subsection a, b and c of the 1999 constitution as amended to deregister political parties.
By Abbey Trotsky
Acting National Chairperson, SPN
Section 225, Subsections a, b and c of the 1999 Constitution (Fourth Alteration No. 9) Act 2017, under which INEC deregistered 73 political parties including SPN provides that INEC “shall have the power to de-register a political party for (a) breach of any of the requirement for registration (b) failure to win at least twenty-five per cent of the vote cast in: (i) one state of the federation in a presidential election; (ii) One local government of the state in a governorship election.” (c) Failure to win: (i) one ward in the chairmanship election, (ii) one seat in the national or state house of assembly election, or (iii) one seat in the councillorship election.
The SPN opposed this 2017 amendment as an attempt to consolidate the control of godfathers and big moneybags over elections by preventing independent political organizations of working people and the poor.
While the Appeal Court upheld the power of INEC under Section 225, it also stressed that deregistration of SPN and other 21 political parties was unlawful because the INEC did not follow the due process in exercising its power under section 225.
Going by this interpretation, it is obvious that the aspect of Section 225 which can be said to be minimum electoral requirements a political party must satisfy is the requirement for its registration. This was stated in the subsection (a) and defines the existence of the political party such that without it being satisfied, the political party will never be recognized by INEC to participate in election let alone being judged as stated in the subsection (b) and (c) by its performance in the said election.
It is obvious that INEC never considered the requirement for registration as stated in subsection (a) to be a minimum requirement a party must satisfy let alone a basis for the deregistration. This is why the deregistration exercise carried out by the INEC was solely based on the performance of the political parties in the so-called 2019 general election which was adjudged by both the national and international observers to be marred with all forms of manipulations and electoral malpractices.
Going by this background, Appeal Court judgment held that INEC did not follow the due process in exercising its power under section 225 and declared the deregistration unlawful with an order that SPN and other 21 political parties deregistered to be relisted and recognized as political parties is very valid and INEC must comply with it
INEC refuses to obey the Appeal court judgment and heads to Supreme Court. However, the INEC has refused to obey and implement the Appeal Court judgment. Instead, it decided to head to Supreme Court to challenge the judgment.
Going to Supreme Court to challenge Appeal Court judgments is not license for INEC to disobey the order of the Appeal Court, especially, when there is no evidence that the Appeal Court judgment has been set aside. Besides, INEC decision to challenge the judgment is based on a false claim that the judgment is in conflict with another judgment of the Appeal Court delivered over the same issue of deregistration of political parties on July 29, 2020.
While it is true that both judgments were delivered by the Appeal Court and based on the same issues of deregistration of political parties, it is a blatant lie to say that the two judgments are contradictory. The two judgments upheld the INEC power to deregister political parties. However, it was held in the judgement delivered by the justice Dongban-Mensem-led panel of the Appeal Court that INEC failed to follow due process in exercising its power under Section 225. This is not the case in the July 29 Appeal Court judgment where the question of due process was never referenced.
The argument that the two Appeal Court judgements are contradictory is just a mere smokescreen and pretence for INEC’s refusal to obey the order of the court that SPN and other 21 deregistered political parties must be relisted and recognised as political parties. This has further exposed the fact that the motive behind the deregistration in the first instance is to limit the political space and ensure that it is dominated by pro-capitalist politicians while the working class are denied of political representation.
APPEAL FOR SOLIDARITY
This undemocratic and anti-people action of the INEC has to be defeated. To achieve this, the SPN in furtherance of its ongoing campaign against its deregistration calls on mass organisations of the working people, pro-masses organisations, workers, youth and individual activists nationally and internationally not only to prevail on the INEC to comply with the subsisting court order but also to ensure that the anti-democratic section 225 recently smuggled into the constitution is expunged.
Beyond this is the need for the leadership of the labour movement and radical pro-working people organisations as well as workers, artisans, youth, socialists, trade unionists and community activists to join forces with the SPN and help build it as a step towards a mass party of the working people party. This is in order to have a formidable working people party to wrest power from the thieving capitalist elites and form a government of working people and the poor on a socialist programme.