A pro-democracy activist, Richard Akinnola, has instituted a suit in the Federal High Court, Abuja, challenging the registration of the Unity Party of Nigeria, UPN, and the Social Democratic Party, SDP, as political parties in Nigeria.
In the suit, filed by his lawyers, Bamidele Aturu & Co, Mr. Akinnola contended that the parties ought not to have been registered by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, since they had been dissolved as political parties in the Second Republic and the botched Third Republic.
The INEC, UPN and SDP are 1st, 2nd and 3rd Defendants in the case.
In the originating summons, Mr. Akinola asked the court to determine whether the Political Parties (Dissolution) Decree 1984 and the Political Parties (Dissolution) Decree 1993, which respectively dissolved the 2nd and 3rd defendants as political parties, are not existing laws which the 1st Defendant had a legal obligation to obey and to comply with.
He also asked the court to determine whether a political association dissolved by law or prohibited by an existing law from acting as a political party could function or act as a political party without the repeal of the existing law.
The court will also determine whether the 1st defendant could validly or competently register or reregister as a political party an association which had been dissolved by law or prohibited by an existing law from acting as a political party.
The plaintiff sought an order of the court to direct INEC forthwith to deregister the two parties and also restrain the Commission or its agents, officers, servants and/or privies from recognizing or permitting them to function as such.
Mr. Akinnola also sought an order of perpetual injunction restraining the UPN and SDP or their agents, officers, servants and/or privies from acting, functioning or parading themselves as political parties in Nigeria.
He said he is not a member of any registered or unregistered political party in Nigeria or elsewhere at the moment.
He explained that he had gone through a list of political parties registered in Nigeria by INEC “with a view to making an informed decision as to which political party to join whenever I am ready to do so.”
He stated that it was in the interest of justice for the Court to grant his application as the defendants would not in any way be prejudiced by its grant.
In a written address to support the application, James Abah of Bamidele Aturu & Co said, “We respectfully urge this Honourable Court to grant the prayers sought in the Originating Summons to enable him exercise his right to belong to a political party of his choice as guaranteed by section 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended and Article 10 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, cap., A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.”
The UPN was the political party founded in 1979 by the first Premier of Western Nigeria, Obafemi Awolowo and on whose platform he ran for the president.
The party won in five out of the then 19 states of the federation. The states were the old Bendel, old Ondo, old Oyo, Ogun and Lagos States.
However, INEC, last April, approved the UPN as a party, which, according its spokesperson, Adedeji Salau, would pursue egalitarian society and serving the greatest good of the greatest number. The chief promoter of the party is Frederick Faseun, the founder of the Oodua Peoples Congress [OPC].
The Social Democratic Party, SDP, was one of the two political parties decreed into existence by former military president, Ibrahim Babangida, in 1991.
The party fielded the late business mongul, Moshood Abiola, as its presidential candidate in the June 12 1993 election. Mr. Abiola was coasting home to victory against his National Republican Convention [NRC] opposite, Bashir Tofa, when the election was annulled by the military administration.
In 2013, however, the party was revived by about 15 political associations and parties with a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Olu Falae, as its major promoter.
Mr. Falae explained that since many Nigerians had experienced firsthand the impact of SDP during the military era and accepted it as a party for all Nigerians, its promoters decided that such a platform would be a better alternative to the Peoples Democratic party, PDP, and the All Progressives Congress, APC.
A former governor of Ogun State, Olusegun Osoba, and some of his political allies, including the sitting deputy governor, Segun Adesegun, the three senators representing the state in the Senate and some members of the House of Representatives, had last week joined the SDP.
Mr. Osoba dumped the APC after a long-drawn battle with Governor Ibikunle Amosun for the control of the soul of the state chapter of the party.
The former governor first ruled Ogun State on the ticket of the defunct SDP.