A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to include the Young Democratic Party (YDP) as a political party in the forthcoming general elections.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed on Monday held that YDP is deemed a duly registered political party by “operation of the law” having fulfilled conditions precedent to registration.
He faulted the failure of INEC to communicate the party within 30 days of receipt of its application for registration as provided in Section 78 (4) of the Electoral Act, 2010. He therefore ordered INEC to immediately issue the party a Certificate of Registration.
YDP had through its counsel Kelvin Nwofor (SAN) challenged the failure of INEC to register it after satisfying the conditions for registration as stipulated in the Electoral Act.
The party filed its application for registration on March 17, 2014 which was received by INEC on April 1, 2014. But the electoral umpire replied the political association on August 13, 2014; first, by informing it that its application was under consideration and being processed.
Finally on September 15, 2014, INEC informed the party that it had failed to satisfy Section 223 (1) (b) of the 1999 Constitution which provides for geographical spread of its executive committee members.
The judge said the letter of INEC was belated as it came outside the time provided by the law.
Section 78 (4) of the Electoral Act provides in sub 5 “that where conditions for registration has not been satisfied by the political association, INEC must inform the association of the development towards the expiration of the 30 days after receipt of the application, failing which the association shall be deemed to have been registered.
“To make matters worse for the defendant, even after 120 days of the receipt of the plaintiff’s application, the defendant did not say that the plaintiff has not met the conditions for registration. When therefore the defendant finally wrote to the plaintiff stating that its application has failed to satisfy Section 223 (1) (b) and (2) (b) of the Constitution, the information in my view, was emotive but belated attempt to comply with Section 78 (4) of the Electoral Act,” the judge said.
The judge also dismissed a preliminary objection by INEC’s counsel I.S. Mohammed which argued that YDM, not being a registered political party, is not juristic entity and therefore lacks the powers to sue and be sued.
National Publicity Secretary of the party, Ugo Nwufor expressed satisfaction with the decision of the judge to grant all the reliefs sought by the YDM.
He said “INEC has no reason whatsoever to unduly exclude us and our candidates from the 2015 general elections. Jega has no reason to keep our certificate.”
He assured that the political party was ready to field its candidates in all the elections, and insisted that non-inclusion in the ballot papers based on the verdict of the court would mean “to cancel the outcome of the election based on exclusion.”