62 political parties, on Monday, resolved to drag the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to court for excluding them from the forthcoming Bayelsa State senatorial bye-election, in spite of an appeal court judgement which held that electoral umpire ignored due process in exercising its powers under Section 225(a) of the Constitution (as amended).
The 62 political parties which are among the 74 parties that were deregistered for their poor performance during the 2019 general elections made this known shortly after a meeting with the state resident electoral commissioner, Cyril Omorogbe, in the commission’s headquarter in Yenagoa.
According to the leader of the delegation and chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), David Amabebe, the political parties have resorted to go to court because INEC has refused to allow them to exercise their constitutional rights even though there is an Appeal Court ruling that reversed the deregistration of 22 political parties.
Explaining further, he said: “it could be recalled that a Federal High Court in May 2020 affirmed the power of the INEC to deregister political parties that failed to comply with the provisions of the law and we obeyed the judgement before appealing the case.
“But in August 2020 the Court of Appeal in Abuja reversed the deregistration of 22 political parties which were among the 74 political parties de-registered in February 2020 by the electoral umpire, the INEC has refused to obey the judgement.
“However, because of what our name signifies, we have approached INEC to know why they have refused to involve us in the processes of the Bayelsa senatorial by-election and they have given us their reasons. And from all indications, they are taking the matter as if it is a personal matter.
“So as a responsible and peace-loving institution, we have decided to take further legal measures against INEC because we cannot fold our arms and watch them deprive us of our right to associate for our political aspirations.”
Giving further insight, the chairman of IPAC strategic committee chairman, Barr Aniso Abraham, said: “INEC is typical of the habit of acting before they consider whether there is a law. The 74 political parties are protesting that they were unduly deregistered but they have taken it as a personal problem that does not conform with their role as umpire.
“It is now a habit for them to believe that the law is working only when the law is in their favour. This is unacceptable. We are going to approach the court to ensure that we get a firm explanation as to whether the INEC has the power to do what it is doing now. We will ensure that INEC pays for the negligence so that they learn to obey laws.”
For the chairman of the Alternative Party of Nigeria (APN), James Inengite, “IPAC is not comfortable with what the INEC chairman suggested that we should wait until after the Supreme Court decision. The issue is that what if the judgement goes in favour of the political parties? That means this senatorial by-election they are about to conduct would be cancelled.”
Earlier in the meeting, the resident electoral commissioner, Mr Omorogbe, suggested that the aggrieved political parties invest their energy in forming a new political party than waste it going to court.
He said: “We are in court, yes! For example, can you use the judgement of a lower court that says I am no longer the governor of a state to come and ask me to vacate office even though I have appealed the case in a higher court?
“At this point, so long as we are in court, you do not exist to me until when the Supreme Court rules that you were unlawfully excluded. I am not a lawyer. I will not be today, not tomorrow. Your judgement here, judgement there means nothing to me.
“So your party does not exist and that is it. I will rather advise you to form a new political party than going to court to waste your time. I have an election to conduct, so these your court cases are distractions to me.”
Senatorial bye-election: 62 political parties to drag INEC to court over deregistration in Bayelsa