A political association under the aegis of Democratic People’s Congress, DPC, has dragged the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja for refusing to register it as a political party after meeting the requirements stipulated in the 1999 constitution and the Electoral Act.
The group, in an originating summons they filed against INEC, urged the high court to among other things, determine “Whether it was right for the defendant in the conduct of its statutory and constitutional duty to neglect, refuse and fail to register the plaintiffs association, the plaintiffs, having satisfied all requirements for registration as stipulated by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended, and sections 78(1), 78(6) of the Electoral Act 2010, amended.
“Whether it was right for the defendant in the conduct of its statutory and constitutional duty to neglect, refuse and fail to notify the plaintiffs in writing stating reason(s) for non-registration of the plaintiffs association as a political as a political party within 30 days from the receipt of the plaintiffs application pursuant to section 78(3) of the Electoral Act 2010, as amended.
As well as, “Whether it was right for the defendant to terminate the process for the registration of the plaintiffs Association via a letter, Ref. No INEC/EPM/DPC/511/1 of November 19, 2013 and served on the plaintiffs on December 3, 2013.”
Consequently, the plaintiffs are praying the court to issue a declaration that the refusal of INEC to register DPC as a political party “is wrong, unjust, unreasonable, discriminatory, unfair, oppressive and unconstitutional, the plaintiffs having satisfied all requirements for registration as stipulated by the 1999 Constitution and the Electoral Act, 2010.
“A declaration that the plaintiffs association is statutorily deemed to have been registered as a political party pursuant to section 78(4) of the Electoral Act, 2010, as amended, the plaintiffs having not received any notification to the contrary from the defendant within 30 days pursuant to section 78(3) of the Electoral Act.
“A declaration that the letter, Ref. No INEC/EPM/DPC/511/1 of November 19, 2013, signed by Bala I. Shittu, an agent of the defendant purportedly terminating the process for the registration of the plaintiffs association as a political party, is tenous, belated, ill-timed and contravenes section 78(3) of the Electoral Act and therefore a nullity and of no effect whatsoever.
“An order of this court directing the defendant to formally issue the plaintiffs a certificate of registration of their association as a political party.
Likewise “an order directing the defendant to give effect to the plaintiffs letter of December 9, 2013, and continue with the registration of the plaintiffs association as a political party to a conclusion pursuant to section 15(b) Part 1 of the Third Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, and section 78(1) of vthe Electoral Act 2010, as amended.”
In a 22-paragraphed affidavit deposed in support of the suit by one Olusegun Peters who identified himself as the protem National Secretary of DPC, he told the court that the plaintiffs had “painstakingly and consciously met with the conditions for registration, paid the prescribed processing fee of N1million, and subsequently forwarded all necessary documents to INEC on August 7, 2013 having complied with the defendant’s guideline for registration.
“I know of a fact that the defendant acknowledged receipt of the documents sent by the plaintiffs via a letter on August 28, 2013, and that the defendant subsequently carried out a verification exercise at the plaintiff’s National Secretariat on September 6.
“Several weeks after the verification exercise, the plaintiffs never received any correspondence from the defendant, a situation which prompted the plaintiffs to write a letter reminding the defendant to conclude its statutory and constitutional duty of registering the plaintiffs association as a political party.
“The plaintiffs were surprised when on December 3, 2013, the plaintiffs received a letter from the defendant dated November 19, purportedly terminating further action regarding the plaintiffs’ application on grounds of omission of criteria for membership and inaccurate description of logo and flag in the plaintiffs’ constitution.
“I reasonably believe that the defendant is bent to frustrate the plaintiffs’ lawful quest to form a political party. It will be in the interest of justice to grant the reliefs sought herein”, he added.
Others behind the suit include the National Organizing Secretary of the group, Mr Okoye Finbarr, its Vice Chairman (North Central), Alhaji Haruna Abubakar, the Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Abubakar Sadiq Khalil and the National Legal Adviser, Dioji Chidinma.
Meanwhile, no date has been fixed for hearing of the suit.