The deregistration of 74 political parties by the Independent National Electoral Commission amounted to “political assassination”, KOWA Party said on Friday.
The party also faulted its inclusion among those which got the commission’s big stick because it has an elected councillor in Okigwe, Imo State, known to INEC.
“What happened was reprehensible impunity that can’t be allowed to stand. Together with other political parties that have a strong case to pursue, we shall get justice and ensure respect for constitutional due processes”, the party stated.
The acting national chairman of KOWA Party, Mark Adebayo, bared his anger in a statement issued in Abuja and expressed shock at INEC’s “act of illegality in deregistering a party that has an elected councillor.”
He said, “Our disappointment is aggravated because we wrote to INEC about seven months ago informing the commission that the party won a councillorship seat in Amosu Ward of Okigwe LGA of Imo state. We have the acknowledgement copy of that letter in our custody.
“Despite that, INEC went ahead and behaved like a political assassin to deregister the party. KOWA Party is not new to winning elections. We won election to the Bayelsa House of Assembly in 2011. The party has been participating actively in all INEC elections. In 2019 alone, the party sponsored almost 200 candidates in various capacities for the general elections.”
Adebayo cited the amended clause that deals with the deregistration of political parties, which stipulated that if a party wins a Ward in a Local Government election, it cannot be deregistered by INEC.
He said, “Why it then went ahead to include KOWA Party among deregistered parties is something that the commission has to explain. We will take all necessary legal actions to redress this dangerous threat to Nigeria’s democratic development.
“It is also an affront to the rule of law because KOWA Party is among 33 political parties that took INEC to court on this matter and the case was adjourned to February 17. But INEC took a precipitate action to deregister political parties before then. Its action is not only ultra vires but also in contempt of court.
“Let me be clear about this, KOWA Party is not among political Parties that don’t have Party headquarter offices in Abuja as required by law. We have our headquarters office in Abuja where INEC came to do the last verification exercise on December 5 2019.
“The part has structures in 35 states of the Federation and the FCT, Abuja. INEC officials came to our office and we presented to the verification team everything that was requested to be seen. Not a single complaint came from them.
“Most of our state chairmen and national officers were physically present. That’s not a small cost to do for a party with modest resources like KOWA Party. We cannot be running our democracy on the basis of survival of the richest parties or parties which have uninhibited access to sophisticated means of violence as we witnessed in Kogi and Bayelsa states last year that much bloodshed was recorded.
“If money and capacity for deadly violence are what make a party to win elections, then our country is doomed. But that’s exactly what INEC is promoting now – win elections by hook or crook or get deregistered. You can’t build a multiparty democracy like that.
“What you want in that case are not political parties, but monstrous cult groups that would eventually destroy the country. By its innumerable failings, INEC itself is supposed to have been deregistered long ago if such legal instruments were available in our statute books.”