By Udora Orizu in Abuja
The controversy over the order by the Independent National Electoral Commission to political parties not to campaign for rescheduled Presidential and National Assembly elections, billed for Saturday has shifted to the court as the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) has dragged INEC before a Federal High Court in Abuja for an an order to restrain the electoral umpire from interfering with the campaigns of the opposition political parties.
INEC had while announcing the postponement of elections for one week on Saturday barred political parties and their candidates from campaigning for this weekend’s presidential and National Assembly elections.
In a suit filed on behalf of the CUPP by Ikenga Ugochinyere who doubles as spokesperson for the opposition and National Chairman of Action Peoples Party, APP, the group is seeking for an ex parte order to be issued Monday restraining INEC from interfering with the opposition parties’ campaign until the midnight of February 21.
The CUPP in the originating process filed at the Federal High Court Abuja wants the Court to rule, “Whether having regard to the combined effect of the mandatory statutory provisions of Sections 99(1), 100(1) and 101(1) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as Amended), INEC can validly issue any directive or make any order stopping, barring or ending campaign by registered political parties, including the Plaintiff APP, for the 2019 General Elections to a period other than 24 hours prior to the date of the elections.”
“Whether by Sections 99(1), 100(1) and 101(1) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as Amended) the announcement, directive or order by INEC directing registered political parties, including the APP, to stop or end their campaign for the 2019 General Elections on 14th February, 2019 for polls that will hold on 23rd February, 2019 is not ultra vires its powers, illegal, null, void and of no effect whatsoever.”
CUPP is thus seeking for a declaration that INEC cannot issue any directive or make any order stopping, barring or ending campaign by registered political parties, for the 2019 general elections to a period other than 24 hours prior to the date of the elections.
The Coalition claims that the directive or order by INEC directing political parties to stop or end their campaign for the general election on February 14, for polls that will hold on February 23 is illegal, null, void and of no effect whatsoever.
CUPP added that it approached the court this morning to protect its campaign activities from any interference or interruption since the APC government is allegedly pressuring INEC not to allow campaign resumption so that voters turn out will be low for them to manipulate the election.