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Okotie sues INEC over de-registration of Fresh Party

By Joe Nwankwo (Abuja) and Emmanuel Nzomiwum, (Enugu)

Presidential candidate of Fresh Democratic Party (FDP) in the 2011 general elections, Rev. Chris Okotie, has sued Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to court over the de-registration of his party.

Okotie is challenging INEC’s December 6, 2012 decision de-registering FDP, on the basis of the party’s “failure to meet the requirements of Section 223(1) and (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended).”

Cited as co-defendants are Attorney General of the Federation, National Assembly and Inspector General of Police.

In an originating summons brought pursuant to Order 3 Rule 9 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2009, the plaintiff, through his counsel, Fred Agbaje, averred that INEC’s action in de-registering FDP, is a violation of the 1999 constitution, especially “as it relates to good governance, welfare of all persons, freedom, equality, justice and above all, the principles of democracy, franchise and social justice.

Okokie is seeking, among others: “A declaration that the first plaintiff has satisfied all the conditions and requirement of a political party as stipulated under the Electoral Act 2010 and therefore is an extant political party in Nigeria”.

Shortly after the matter was mentioned, the court presided over by Justice Gabriel Kolawole, adjourned to April 23, to enable parties file and exchange processes.

Meanwhile, Enugu State chapter of Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) has urged INEC to deregister more docile political parties.

In a statement signed by the Chairman, Adonys Igwe and Secretary, John Nwobodo, made available to Daily Independent, Enugu CNPP commended INEC for its bold initiative to weed out docile political parties, but noted that the commission has not done a thorough job yet.

The group said it expected INEC to de-register, in one fell swoop, all the political parties that are in default of the Electoral Act 2011 (as amended) and stop a piecemeal de-registration.

According to the statement, CNPP welcomed the Enugu State governor, Sullivan Chime, back to the state and wished him good health to serve out his tenure.

The group congratulated the promoters of All Progressives Congress (APC), made up of four political parties, ACN, CPC, ANPP and APGA.

It viewed the birth of the new party as the tonic for rescuing the oppressed people of Nigeria from the iron rule of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

CNPP maintained that for close to 16 years PDP has been at the helm of affairs, the country is gradually eclipsing into economic oblivion.

The statement further reads: “However, we advise the promoters of APC to cut of the leprous hands of APGA as it is capable of undermining the good intentions.

“A little leaven leavens the whole lump. The crisis in APGA does not make it fit to be part of the process at this time.

“The elements that want to participate in merger may have to join the merger as individuals and not hoodwink APGA into it. They ought to know that unanimity is indispensable.

“In the face of loud dissent from the Anambra State governor, Peter Obi, elected representatives on the platform of the party, a section of APGA cannot lawfully and legitimately consummate any merger with the other political parties.”

CNPP called on the promoters of APC to distance themselves from APGA, at least for now, and go ahead to give Nigerians the true platform they have been yearning for, warning that Nigerians would not forgive the promoters if they fail to realise the merger with great speed.

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