Chris Okotie’s party rejects its purported de-registration by INEC (Press release)

Pastor Chris Okotie

Pastor Chris Okotie

The purported deregistration of our party, FRESH (Fresh Democratic Party) as announced by Independent National Electoral Commission on Thursday, December 6, 2012 came to us as a rude shock, even though the commission only made good its long standing threat to embark on this undemocratic action against all rationale thinking and public opinion.

It is also an affront on the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the decision of the Court of Appeal on the vexed issue.

We condemn and reject this unilateral and anti-democratic action which is designed to further shut out the opposition from the democratic space; and we would seek legal redress for this injustice in the court of law. It is obvious that the ruling party, the PDP is afraid of the growing stature and acceptability of our party and therefore uses this arm twisting tactic to remove our party from the list.

It is unheard of that a ruling party will unilaterally decide that the size, spread and strength of opposition parties should be the basis of their existence, when the constitution provides for freedom of association of groups or persons of diverse creed or political persuasions and philosophies.
You will recall that the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division in an appeal filed by Peoples Redemption Party and others on the issue of registration stated succinctly and unambiguously that INEC had no power to refuse to register a party that has fulfilled the required constitutional provision; and by extension no power whatsoever to de-register a party that has fulfilled all constitutional stipulations.

At no time in our political history did those criteria formed the basis of party existence. It is, therefore, without precedent and should not stand.

The PDP cannot adjudicate in a matter in which it has a clear, vested interest. It cannot determine by force of its present numerical strength in the federal legislature to decide which parties it approves to be its opponent in electoral contests. To allow this unlawful deregistration to stand in this era of deregulation is to condone a perpetration of injustice by the ruling party against the opposition. It would amount to a tyranny of the majority.

It is widely acknowledged that the PDP’s majority was secured through a combination of scientific rigging and other fraudulent devices as the upturning of some of its ‘electoral victories’ at governorship levels have shown.

Moreover, INEC erred by refusing to base its decision on the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria relying solely on the Electoral Act 2010, which runs foul and is inconsistent with the Constitution.

Every party is evolving. The young shall grow, as they say. A small party can grow into a big party over time. A regional party can, through mergers for instance, grow into a big national party. We have seen that happen everywhere including here in our beloved country. Our nascent democracy is only 13years old and the PDP is already writing off smaller opposition parties, which it obviously perceives as threats to its hegemony because of the strong personalities behind these parties.

The most the government could have done is to discontinue the funding of parties it deems ‘’weak’’ and see if they’d die a natural death. This option is open to INEC but it chooses to play the tune discharged by its piper- PDP. It should be noted that some of the parties, have a subsisting suit in court that challenges INEC’s decision on party deregistration , yet without regard for the rule of law, the commission went ahead to effect this illegality.

While pursuing the option of seeking justice, we urge our teeming supporters to remain calm. What we stand for is at the heart of the Nigerian project and it cannot be legislated out of existence.

Signed
Ladi Ayodeji
Director, Media and Publicity
FRESH

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