By Udora Orizu in Abuja
The Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) has dragged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to court over the order by the commission to political parties to stop their campaigns despite the postponement of presidential and National Assembly elections to Saturday, February 23, 2019.
CUPP had on Sunday directed its over 51 member parties to defy INEC’s no-campaigns position and commence their political campaigns on Monday, February 18, and end it by midnight of Thursday, Feb 21, 2019.
However, CUPP on Monday dragged INEC before a Federal High Court in Abuja where the opposition is seeking an order of the court to restrain the electoral umpire from interfering with the campaigns of the opposition political parties.
In a suit filed on behalf of the CUPP by Ikenga Ugochinyere, who doubles as the spokesperson for the opposition coalition and National Chairman of Action Peoples Party (APP), the group is seeking an exparte order restraining INEC from interfering with the opposition parties’ campaigns until the midnight of February 21, 2019.
In the originating summons filed at the Federal High Court, Abuja, CUPP is asking the court, “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 election 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 campaigns by registered political parties, for the 2019 general election to a period other than 24 hours prior to the date of the elections.
The coalition claims that the directive or order by INEC for political parties to stop or end their campaigns for the 2019 general election on February 14 for polls that will hold on February 23, 2019 is illegal, null, void and of no effect whatsoever.
CUPP added that it approached the court to protect its campaign resumption activities from any interference or interruption since the All Progressives Congress (APC) government is allegedly pressuring INEC not to allow campaign resumption so that voter turnout will be low for them to manipulate the election.