APPEAL COURT’S OVERTURN OF THE DEREGISTRATION OF SPN AND 21 OTHERS: INEC’S CLAIM OF TWO CONFLICTING JUDGEMENTS IS A RUSE
WE CALL ON INEC TO IMMEDIATELY LIST SPN AND 21 OTHER REGISTERED POLITICAL PARTIES IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE AUGUST 10, 2020 JUDGEMENT OF THE COURT OF APPEAL
The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) considers the statement by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to the effect that it is faced with two conflicting judgements from the Court of Appeal over its deregistration of the SPN and other political parties as a ruse. This can only come from a lawless institution and meant to disobey the courts under the guise of not knowing which of the two separate judgements delivered on July 29 and August 10, 2020 respectively to comply with.
Regardless of its intention to approach the Supreme Court for a final legal resolution of the matter, the INEC is bound by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to comply with any subsisting court judgment. We therefore demand that INEC must without delay relist the SPN and 21 other registered political parties in full compliance with the August 10 judgement of the Court of Appeal. Should the INEC go ahead with this ruse to refuse to immediately relist the SPN and 21 other parties on the list of registered political parties, the INEC chairman will be liable to be tried for contempt of court.
We call on the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and pro-masses organisations not to stand aside and watch INEC ride roughshod over the rights of working people to form, join and build a political party of their choice. Alongside the right to vote, the right of political participation and representation are rights won by the working class across the world in mighty battles. Without the formation and the building of an alternative mass workers party, the Nigerian workers, youth and oppressed masses will be condemned to continue to vote once every four years for whichever of their oppressors will torment them for another four years.
As far as we are concerned, the grounds of the appeal by the National Unity Party (NUP) which informed the July 29, 2020 judgement of the Court of Appeal, Abuja Judicial Division is different from the grounds of the appeal filed by the ACD and 22 other parties including the SPN which informed the August 10, 2020 judgement of the Court of Appeal. In the July 29 judgement of the Court of Appeal on the appeal filed by the NUP, the court ruled that INEC has powers to deregister political parties. However, in the case brought by the ACD and 21 other parties including the SPN, as the learned Justices of the Court of Appeal clearly stated in their judgement, the ground that was contested was not the powers of the INEC to deregister, rather it was undue and reckless process employed by INEC. The two judgments of the Court of Appeal addressed different subject matters and are therefore not contradictory.
Firstly, INEC had deregistered the 23 political parties including the SPN on February 11, 2020, despite being aware of the pendency of a suit filed by the said political parties in October 2019 challenging the powers of the INEC to deregister political parties. This act alone renders the de-registration of the parties unlawful given that INEC was expected to have suspended any intention to carry out deregistration until the determination of the suit. Secondly, Section 225 (A) of the 1999 constitution (As Amended) on which INEC derives its power of deregistration says as follows: “The Independent National Electoral Commission shall have powers to d-register a political party for:
A Breach of any of the requirement for registration;
B Failure to win at least twenty-five percent of votes cast in –
- One state of the Federation om a Presidential election;
- One Local Government of the State in a Governorship election.
C Failure to win at least –
- 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.”
Since no Local Government elections have been held anywhere, it means that General Electoral Cycle which began with the Presidential, National Assembly, Governorship and State House of Assembly elections have not yet been completed. Therefore INEC is jumping the gun by going ahead to deregister political parties on the basis of section 225 (A) given the fact that the Local Government elections have not yet being held.
Thirdly, as the learned Justices of the Court of Appeal made clear, another ground for the judgement was INEC failure to follow due process in deregistering the parties. INEC’s action failed to adhere to section 225 (A) of the 1999 constitution as amended. According to the court, failure of INEC “to adduce reasons for the deregistration made the deregistration illegal”. Obviously in anticipation of the dirty antics of INEC, “The Court further held that the parties are challenging the process of their de-registration and not the act” (Business Day, 10 August 2020).
The above are the three principal grounds for the August 10, 2020, judgement of the Court of Appeal. None of these relates to, concerns or contradicts the July 29 judgement of the same court in the appeal filed by the NUP.
We are sure that INEC decision to flout the judgement of the Court of Appeal under the guise of two conflicting judgements is in order to perpetuate its agenda on behalf of the corrupt capitalist ruling elite to keep the working masses and oppressed youth without a party of their own. This again reinforces our allegation that INEC is not independent but rather acting a script laid out by the corrupt capitalist elite who wants to undemocratically dominate the political space. We shall not relent in our struggle to fight for our right of existence as a party of the working class, the youth and the poor masses
Abiodun Bamigboye Chinedu Bosah
Acting National Chairperson National Secretary
E-mail: [email protected]