ABUJA: The President of Inter-Party Advisory Council of Nigeria, IPAC, High Chief Peter Ameh has advised the Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Profesor Mahmood Yakubu to make haste to relist the 74 political parties in accordance with the judgment of the Court of Appeal.
High Chief Ameh, who is also the National Chairman of Progressive Peoples Alliance, PPA, in a statement issued on Sunday in Abuja, also advised INEC to jettison the temptation to appeal the judgment, which according to him would amount to grandstanding.
Ameh said, “So we return to the basics: freedom of association. Any attempt by INEC to appeal this decision will amount to mere grandstanding and a waste of taxpayers’ money.”
According to him, “The time tested democratic principles and the rule of law first enunciated by the wise men of ancient Greece and nurtured by the larger democracies world over, including Nigeria, cannot be allowed to be felled in one swoop by any agency of government.
“Our Appellate Courts have in a plethora of cases including Musa V. INEC continues to stand in defence of liberty, justice, freedom and multi-party democracy as the only route for the advancement of our Nation.
“The Court of Appeal, led by its President Hon. Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem has maintained this noble tradition in the judgment delivered on the 10th August 2020 by ordering INEC to relist the Appellants who were illegally deregistered.
“The conduct of INEC in this saga is indefensible. While the Appellants were in Court and in anticipation of the ruling of the Federal High Court fixed for the 17th February 2020, INEC on 6th February 2020 went ahead to deregister the Appellants to foist a fait acompli on the Court.
“This shows disrespect not only to the political parties but to the Judicial Arm of Government. The Court of Appeal has risen in defence of the integrity of the judiciary.
“A’ Court must defend its jurisdiction and integrity jealously and courageously and we salute our Judiciary for acting without fear or favour.
“Mistakes have been made by INEC and the trial Court. But to err is human. INEC only need to put this behind it and relist the parties immediately.
“Any claim of conflict between the NUP case and the instant one (by any Lawyer), is mischievous and dishonest. The Court has not said INEC did not have the power to deregister, it only said that the due process of law was not adhered to with respect to the ACD & 21 ORS’ case.
“As argued by the Appellants, the deregistration of Political Parties is akin to Capital Punishment (death sentence) on natural persons which cannot be allowed without giving fair hearing to the accused.
“Even the all-knowing and all-seeing Almighty God having known that Adam ate the forbidden fruit still gave him the opportunity to say something in his defence before passing judgment.
“The high point of the judgment is the pronouncement by the Court on Section 40 of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 on Freedom of Association.
“Even though the proviso to this Section says it shall not derogate from the powers conferred by the Constitution on INEC with respect to Political Parties to which INEC does not accord recognition, the Court put it clearly that this proviso is ousted with respect to Political Parties which INEC has already recognized and registered.
“So we return to the basics: freedom of association. Any attempt by INEC to appeal this decision will amount to mere grandstanding and a waste of taxpayers’ money.