Court fixes June 3 to hear substantive suit filed by 31 deregistered political parties
The Federal High Court, Abuja, has again adjourned until fixed June 3 to hear a suit filed by 31 political parties against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Justice Anwuli Chikere, on Friday, gave the new date following the court’s inability to sit as scheduled.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that INEC had, on Feb. 6, deregistered 74 political parties, leaving 18 others. However, in a motion on notice with suit number: FHC//ABJ/ CS/444/19 between Advanced Congress of Democrats (ACD) and 32 others Vs. Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and INEC (1st and 2nd respondents respectively), the applicants had approached the court for restraining order. Although 33 political parties filed the matter in court, two of the parties; Labour Party (LP) and African Democratic Congress (ADC), were later dropped from the suit because the parties were not deregistered by INEC.
NAN also reports that Justice Chikere had, on Feb. 17, restrained INEC from deregistering the parties in a ruling, having failed to counter the application by the plaintiffs, saying the affected political parties had the legal right which must be protected.
On May 20, the judge had adjourned the hearing of the substantive matter and the adoption of processes filed by parties till May 29. On Friday however, the court could not sit due to a mistake on the part of the court on the exact date of adjournment, even though the political parties’ lawyer, Kehinde Edun, and counsel to INEC, Alhassan Umar, were in court. Justice Chikere, after meeting the counsel in her chamber, fixed June 3 for hearing of the case.
NAN reports that the 31 political parties, in the application filed on Oct. 30, 2019 and served on INEC on Oct. 31, 2019, had prayed the court for “an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the 2nd defendant from deregistering the plaintiffs, or any political party for that matter, pending the determination of this suit. “And for such further order(s) as this Honourable Court may deem fit to make in the circumstances.” They sought for the order on the grounds that “the plaintiffs as registered political parties have been carrying out their constitutional/statutory duties and functions without any funding from government. “The plaintiffs have been canvassing for votes and nominating candidates for elections into electoral constituencies in Nigeria.”
The affected parties are: Advanced Congress of Democrats (ACD), Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party (ANDP), All Blending Party (ABP), All Grand Alliance Party (AGAP), Better Nigeria Progressive Party (BNPP), Democratic People’s Congress (DPC), Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and Green Party of Nigeria (GPN). Also on the list are Mega Party of Nigeria (MPN) and National Interest Party (NIP). Others are the Nigeria Democratic Congress Party (NDCP), People’s Party of Nigeria (PPN), People for Democratic Change (PDC), Peoples Coalition Party (PCP), Progressives Peoples Alliance (PPA) and Red-build Nigeria Party (RBNP). Others are Restoration Party of Nigeria (RP), United Democratic Party (UDP), United Patriot (UP), We The People Nigeria (WTPN), Young Democratic Party (YDP), Save Nigeria Congress (SNC), Change Advocacy Party (CAP), Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) and All Grassroots Alliance (AGA). Alliance of Social Democrats (ASD), Democratic Alternative (DA), New Generation Party of Nigeria (NGP), Mass Action Joint Alliance (MAJA), Nigeria For Democracy (NFD) and Masses Movement of Nigeria (MMN), also made the list. (NAN)