Thursday, August 30, 2012
National Mirror www.nationalmirroronline.net
All the Facts, All the Sides A PUBLICATION OF GLOBAL MEDIA MIRROR LTD BARRISTER JIMOH IBRAHIM, OFR PUBLISHER
COORDINATOR, EDITORIAL BOARD
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR
ABUJA BUREAU CHIEF
KAYODE BALOGUN JNR
SM, STRATEGIC DEVELOPMENT
INEC and the de-registration of parties
hairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega courted the wrath of most opposition political parties in the country with his recent remark on the Commission’s plan to de-register more ‘comatose’ political parties after the determination of all pending electoral cases before election petitions tribunals. “Our constitution allows for a multi-party system but we have the power to de-register parties and we have started. It is a continuous process and we will continue to de-register parties that do not meet requirements for registration”, the INEC Chairman was quoted as saying. Jega cited relevant portions of the 2011 Electoral Act (as amended), which stipulates that political parties which contest elections and fail to clinch any electoral seat shall be deregistered. Indeed, INEC had in April 2012, de-registered seven political parties, a measure that brought down the number of registered political parties from 63 to 56. Reports said the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) is presently challenging INEC at a Federal High Court in Abuja on the de-registration exercise. The parties want the court to order that Section 78 (7) (II) of the Electoral Act 2011 be expunged for offending Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). Three political parties namely: the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alliance for Democracy (AD) and All Peoples Party
(APP) were registered in 1998 ahead of the general elections that gave birth to the return of democracy in 1999. Shortly after the polls, the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi, went to court to demand the registration of more political parties, the result of which was the registration of the National Conscience Party (NCP) and several others, subsequently. Presently, a Federal High Court in Lagos has warned INEC to stay action on its plan to de-register political parties. Justice Okon Abang who gave the warning while ruling on an application by the NCP for an injunction restraining INEC from taking the step pending the determination of a suit challenging the Commission’s powers to deregister parties, threatened to nullify any action taken by INEC in contravention of the reliefs sought by the party ( the NCP). It bears no contention that most political parties currently in existence are mere paper tigers, with virtually no structures and the requisite resources to count as political parties. Many of them cannot also boast of any electoral victory since they came into existence. But such parties are often in the forefront of claiming subventions which the INEC statutorily doles out to registered political parties prior to the conduct of elections. Not surprisingly, it appears INEC is fed up of the nuisance value of such laggard parties and now wants them out of the way; hence the Commission’s incessant threats of
SHOULD BE ALLOWED, OVER TIME, TO
DETERMINE THE SURVIVAL OR DEMISE OF ANY POLITICAL PARTY de-registering more political parties. On the other hand, however, the nation’s electoral laws appear overly skewed in favour of the dominant fraction of the political leadership. The most visible implications have been restricted political space, political exclusion and discredited elections. Quite often, debates on electoral laws typify the plans of the dominant fraction of the leadership to gain political advantage. Such manipulations of the electoral laws have created doubts on the independence of INEC and betrayed the executive’s penchant for exploiting the incumbency factor to the detriment of other political competitors. It is, therefore, not surprising that the smaller political parties are embittered about INEC’s parties’ de-registration project and its threats to further annihilate more political parties; their major argument being that INEC’s decision violates the right to association as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution (as amended). As the situation is, INEC may
have no option than to put a hold on its parties de-registration plan until the case filed by the NCP at a Lagos Federal High Court challenging the legality and constitutionality of its deregistration of political parties is determined. The court judgment would go a long way in clarifying the provisions of the subsisting electoral law vis-à-vis the provisions of the Constitution on the registration of political parties, and deepen the democratic process. The Commission should busy itself more with how to ensure the continuous registration of eligible voters and updating the voters register to avoid the nagging problem of disenfranchising qualified voters because of outdated or makeshift voters’ register. We think INEC should play down on its predilection to wielding the big stick of parties de-registration to enable political parties have the opportunity to develop their structures and memberships; and evolve within the country’s historical trajectories. The political parties should not exist at the whims and caprices of unfair electoral laws or the electoral body. The electorate should be allowed, over time, to determine the survival or demise of any political party. In addition, INEC should stop spoon-feeding the parties with subventions most of them grab and retire to bed. The parties should be encouraged to strive for independent funding sources and emerge as viable, strong parties.
ON THIS DAY August 30, 1999 East Timor voted for independence from Indonesia in a referendum. The Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, commonly known as East, is a sovereign state in Southeast Asia. It comprises the eastern half of the island of Timor, the nearby islands of Atauro and Jaco, and Oecusse, an exclave on the northwestern side of the island, within Indonesian West Timor. The small country of 15,410 km² (5,400 sq mi) is located about 640 km (400 mi) northwest of Darwin, Australia.
August 30, 1981 President Mohammad-Ali Rajai and Prime Minister Mohammad-Javad Bahonar of Iran were assassinated in a bombing committed by the People’s Mujahedin of Iran. Mohammad Ali Rajai was the second elected President of Iran from August 2 to 30 1981, after serving as Prime Minister under Abolhassan Banisadr. He was also the Minister of Foreign Affairs from March 11, 1981 to August 15, 1981 while he was the Prime Minister.
August 30, 1967 Thurgood Marshall was confirmed as the first African American Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Marshall (1908 – 1993) was an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, serving from October 1967 until October 1991. Marshall was the Court’s 96th justice and its first African-American justice. Before becoming a judge, Marshall was a lawyer who was best known for his high success in arguing before the Supreme Court.
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