KOWA Party, one of the 74 political parties deregistered on February 6th this year by the Independent National Electoral Commission, has urged a Federal High Court sitting in Abeokuta to declare the action an error.
In suit number FHC/AB/CS/51/2020, the party is asking the court to order INEC to relist it and pay it N500 million as damages.
The party claims that it has suffered loss of public confidence through the action of the Commission which it avers violated relevant sections of the constitution, especially Section 225A which excludes any political party that wins at least one ward in a local government election from being deregistered.
Kowa Party claims that its candidate won a councillorship election in Amosu Ward of Okigwe Local Government Area of Imo State in the year 2018 and that the tenure of the said councillor subsists till the year 2021.
It argues in the witness statement filed in court that having a sitting councillor should have protected the party from INEC’s hammer which it says was “recklessly and unconstitutionally done” and that “INEC did it in error”.
According to the Party’s acting National chairman, Comrade Mark Adebayo, “our suit is not about challenging INEC’s powers to deregister Parties or not. It is that it misused and misapplied that power on KOWA Party. The constitution is very clear about what you must have in order to remain afloat as a political party, the least of which is to have won a councillorship election which we did. And we have a councillor whose tenure by law will not expire till August 2021”.
The national chairman claims that in order to forestall the party’s deregistration, it wrote to INEC since July 2019 to intimate it of its victory at the Imo state local government election held in August of 2018. It says the letter was acknowledged by INEC.
Adebayo says the Party was therefore surprised to have been included among the 74 deregistered parties.
He insists that INEC’s claims in the media that it couldn’t recognise an election that it did not conduct is like standing the law on its head. He states that “State Independent Electoral Commissions which are responsible for conducting local government elections are a creation of the same law that created INEC. That law recognises that SIECs conduct local government elections and Section 225A says the minimum requirement to continue to function as political Party in Nigeria is to win, at least, one ward in a councillorship election. INEC cannot self-amend that section of the Constitution by claiming that it can only recognise the elections it conducts. That’s institutional anarchy and very dangerous and inimical to our country’s democracy. We want justice and the only way to get it is through the Courts”, he says.
No date has been fixed for the commencement of the case but the party is optimistic that justice will be served in the suit.