Rev. Chris Okotie
By Tobi Soniyi
Presidential candidate of the Fresh Democratic Party (FDP) in the 2011 election, Rev. Chris Okotie, has dragged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to court, challenging the deregistration of his party.
He is challenging INEC's December 6, 2012 decision de-registering the FDP on the basis of the party’s “failure to meet the requirements of Section 223(1) and (2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).”
Listed as co-defendants are the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), the National Assembly and the Inspector General of Police (IG).
In an originating summons brought pursuant to Order 3 Rule 9 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2009, the plaintiff contends that the electoral commission’s action deregistering 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...”
He formulated five questions for the determination of the court one of which is; “Whether the 1st Defendant, (INEC) in the exercise of the powers conferred on it under section 153 of the 1999 Constitution can enlarge, curtail or amend the provisions stipulated under sections 221 to 229 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
“Whether 1st Defendant, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)'s letter dated 6th of December 2012, addressed to the Chairman of the 1st plaintiff, purportedly de-registering the 1st Plaintiff is valid and legitimate in view of the provisions of sections 221 to 229 of the 1999 Constitution.
In the event that the court answers the questions in the affirmative, the Household of God pastor seeks the following declarations, among others: “A declaration that the 1st 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.
“A declaration that the 1st defendant, cannot de-register the plaintiff's party except in accordance with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution.
“An order nullifying the so-called re-registration as announced by the 1st defendant on December 5, 2012 and conveyed in the 1st Defendant's letter dated 6th December 2012 purportedly de-registering the 1st plaintiff's party as same is illegal, unconstitutional and wholly violative of democratic tenets and the principle of electoral/political franchise."
Shortly after the matter was mentioned yesterday presiding judge, Justice Gabriel Kolawole adjourned to April 23, to enable parties file and exchange processes.