Katsina, Lagos — Chairman of the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) and chieftain of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), Alhaji Balarabe Musa, has described the recent deregistration of 28 political parties by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as not only fascist but also contemptuous.
INEC on Thursday night announced deregistration of 28 political parties saying it was exercising the powers conferred on it by the 1999 Constitution and the Electoral Act 2010.
But in a sharp reaction to the development, Balarabe Musa, who served as Governor of old Kaduna State during the Second Republic said the Electoral umpire has acted in contempt.
Musa in a telephone interview yesterday said following the previous deregistration exercise; the National Conscience Party (NCP) had obtained a court injunction restraining INEC from further deregistration pending the determination of its case. He said other political parties, including the PRP, later joined in the case as interested parties.
"INEC did not go to court to vacate the injunction by NCP but went ahead to announce deregistration of more political parties; this is not only fascist but contemptuous", Musa said.
He said the CNPP would soon meet and come up with a unified position on the matter, pointing out that the PRP will go to court to seek nullification of the deregistration by INEC.
INEC had in a statement issued on Thursday by the commission's Secretary Abdullahi Kaugama announced the deregistration of 28 political parties, saying that the action was in exercise of the powers conferred on INEC by the 1999 Constitution as amended and the electoral act 2010 as amended.
The statement did not give further reasons for the action.
The deregistered political parties include: ALP, APN, APS, BNPP, CDC, CPN, DPA, FPN, FDP, HDP, JP, LDPN, MDJ, MRDD, NAP, ND, NMDP, NMPP, NRP, NSDP, PAC, PMP, PPP, PRP, PSP, RPN, UNPD and UNPP.
The commission reiterated its commitment to relating with all political parties in accordance with extant laws and for the benefit of our electoral democracy.
Deregistration is a non-issue, says Braithwaite
Founder and former presidential candidate of Nigeria Advance Party (NAP) Dr Tunji Braithwaite has said that as far as his party is concerned, the INEC decision to de-register NAP alongside other 27 political parties is a non-issue.
"As far as we are concerned, that decision is a non-issue to us and we are not bothered about it," Braithwaite said.
Asked if the party will join others in challenging the INEC action in court, Braithwaite said it is a political issue that would be approached politically. He said his party is not interested in going to court over it. He said when it is time the matter will be rightly approached.
INEC is not fair, says Falae
Presidential candidate of the All Peoples Party (APP) and the Alliance for Democracy (AD) in 1999, Chief Olu Falae, yesterday said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is unfair to have included parties that fielded candidates in the last election among those it deregistered.
Falae, who spoke through his personal assistant, retired Captain Adekunle Raji, however said that he was not affected by the deregistration because he has since left the deregistered Democratic People Alliance (DPA) and joined the Socialist Mega Democratic Party (SMDP).
Falae also faulted the process of the exercise saying it is unfair for the INEC to have included parties that have fielded candidates in the last election among those it deregistered.
He said parties that have presidential, gubernatorial and other candidates should have been spared so as not to be seen as standing in the way of those candidates and for them to pursue their ambitions.
He said it is unfair for the INEC to have deregistered a party like the DPA which had a presidential candidate and 28 gubernatorial candidates spread across the country in the last general election.
Chief Falae was the presidential candidate of the DPA before moving to the SMDP.
INEC should reverse its decision - APGA
The All Progressive Grand Allaince (APGA) has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to administratively reconsider its action on the de-registration of 28 political parties.
National Secretary of the party, Alhaji Sani Abdullahi Shinkafi, who made the plea yesterday in Abuja, said INEC's will ultimately work against the intent and spirit of Nigerian Constitution which guaranteed the freedom of Nigerians to freely associate with one another, without let or hindrance.
"The action will close up the much needed wide and open Political and democratic space, which ordinarily allows every shade of opinion to be democratically expressed and be heard.
"APGA urges the political parties de-registered by INEC not to allow it to affect their desire to contribute to the building of genuine democratic norms, ideals and culture in Nigeria, for such is what Nigeria needs most to build on, for the general development of every facet of the Country," Shinkafi said in a statement signed by Ifeanacho Oguejiofor, the national director of publicity of the party.
INEC had de-registered the 28 parties, claiming it was empowered by the Constitution and adding that they have become docile and for failing to win any elective position since the 2011 general election.
INEC has no right to deregister parties - MD Yusuf
Chieftain of the Movement for Democracy and Justice (MDJ) Alhaji MD Yusuf yesterday said INEC has no right to deregister parties in the manner it did as registration of political parties is a constitutional issue.
Yusuf, who spoke through his secretary, Prince Patrick Emiantor, said sections 321 and 322 of the Nigerian constitution stipulate the basis for functioning as a political party hence anybody that feels certain parties should not be registered should have spelt out what aspect of that provision they have violated.
He said it would be wrong for the INEC chairman to assume that political parties exist only for the purpose of contesting elections as there were other roles parties can perform to strengthen the democratic process which he said the MDJ has been performing.
He said the MDJ will not regard the order on deregistration as it is sure that many would go to court to challenge INEC's decision.
Prince Patrick Emiantor who is also the national administrative secretary of the MDJ said if this is INEC's way of testing the waters then it has failed.
It is a step in the right direction - PDP, DPP
The People's Democratic Party (PDP) and the Democratic People's Party (DPP) yesterday in Abuja commended INEC for the de-registration of 28 political parties.
Speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the spokespersons of the parties asserted that the exercise was a step in the right direction.
The National Chairman of DPP, retired Gen. Bashir Magashi, advised the chieftains of the affected political parties to come together and form a strong opposition.
"There are so many strong politicians that are affected in the exercise, they should challenge the situation and come together, consolidate on their experience to form a formidable opposition.
"This will make political terrain in Nigeria to be more competitive," Magashi said.
He said that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was so clear, and that even though the constitution allowed for a multi-party system, INEC still had the power to de-register parties.
He said it had become so obvious with the amendment of Electoral Act in 2010 that INEC would de-register parties that did not meet its guidelines.
In a separate interview, National Auditor of the PDP, Mr Bode Mustapha, said that the exercise would sanitise the polity and create a better footing for democracy in Nigeria.
He said that the proliferation of political parties in Nigeria was not too healthy for democracy.
Mustapha said the success of any thriving democracy was not in the number of existing political parties, but the coordination and ability to do it right.
Fidelis Mac-Leva, Nurudeen Oyewole, Andrew Agbese, Adewale Giwa, Abbas Jimoh and Yushau A. Ibrahim