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Court restrains INEC from delisting 33 parties

A federal high court in Abuja has restrained the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from deregistering 33 political parties pending the determination of a case before it.

Anwuli Chikere, the presiding judge, made the restraining order while ruling on a suit the parties filed against the attorney-general of the federation (AGF) and INEC.

The plaintiffs had filed an amended originating summons on October 30 praying the court for an order restraining INEC from deregistering them.

Upon hearing the application for interlocutory injunction moved on January 23, the judge adjourned to February 17.

Chikere, in her ruling, asked all parties to maintain status quo until the substantive matter is heard and determined.

Meanwhile, Kehinde Edun, lawyer who represented the plaintiffs, said he has filed a motion for a mandatory injunction with an affidavit of urgency asking the court to compel INEC to restore the parties which have already been deregistered.

In the substantive matter with suit number FHC/ABJ/ CS/444/2019, the plaintiffs asked the court to determine “whether the provisions of section 225A b(i), b(ii), c(i), c(ii) and c(iiii) of the 1999 constitution by the 4th alteration act No.9 of 2017 are to be construed disjunctively/alternatively or whether they are to be construed conjunctively.

“Whether the 2nd defendant (INEC) can exercise any power under section 225A (b) and (c) of the constitution without conclusive and democratic elections being first held and concluded into all constituencies of the federation.”

While delisting the parties on February 6, Mahmood Yakubu, INEC chairman, had said they failed to meet the criteria provided for by section 225A of the 1999 constitution (as amended) which include: ‘breach of any of the requirements for registration as a party, failure to win at least 25 percent of the votes cast in one state in a presidential election or 25 percent of the votes cast in one local government area, and failure to win at least one ward in a Chairmanship election, one seat in the national or state assembly election or one seat in a councillorship election”.

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