9 December 2012

Nigeria: How INEC Delivered 'Death Sentence' On 28 Parties

Out of the existing 63 registered political parties in the country, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Thursday night deregistered 28, thus reducing the current number to 35.

This is not the first time the electoral umpire is deregistering political parties in Nigeria. In August last year, INEC had de-registered seven parties namely: Democratic Alternative (DA), National Action Council (NAC), National Democratic Liberty Party (NDLP), Masses Movement of Nigeria (MMN), Nigeria People's Congress (NPC), Nigeria Elements Progressive Party (NEPP) and the National Unity Party (NUP).

The reason advanced then was that the affected political parties failed to field candidates and did not win any political seat during the April general elections. This time, however, INEC did not offer such explanations.

The only reason advanced was that it acted in exercise of the powers conferred on it by the 1999 Constitution and the Electoral Act 2010 as amended.

Second Republic Governor of Kaduna State and now chairman of the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, is not amused by the action. Musa who spoke with this reporter on phone in reaction to the development said INEC's action was not only fascist but contemptuous.

Perhaps, what was amusing to Musa, a chieftain of the People's Redemption Party (PRP), one of the parties affected by INEC's action, was the way the message was communicated to his party.

"Our representative at our national secretariat in Abuja was called on phone and requested to come to INEC headquarters; whereupon he was handed our letter of deregistration," he said.

"This shows gross incompetence on the part of INEC because we expect them to either post the letter or deliver it to our office... Asking us to come to INEC and collect our letter of deregistration amounted to come and receive our death sentence", he added.

The former governor accused the commission of committing a contempt of court. He said following the previous deregistration exercise, the National Conscience Party (NCP) headed to court and obtained an injunction restraining INEC from carrying out any further deregistration pending the determination of the case.

"In violation of this court injunction, INEC has gone ahead to deregister more political parties without vacating the subsisting injunction; this is contempt," Musa said, adding that his party and several others had joined the NCP's case as interested parties after a meeting in Calabar.

"In the first place the parties were merely registered to subvert the democratic process; many of the registered political parties have been covertly working with the PDP government. Ironically, the same government they have been working for has turned around to deregister them," he said.

Although the statement from INEC signed by its Secretary, Abdullahi Kaugama, did not state reasons for the current deregistration, Musa disclosed that failure of the affected political parties to win election was advanced -- a reason which the CNPP chairman described as unconstitutional.

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