There appears to be no end to the legal imbroglio over the refusal of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to formally register the Young Democratic Party (YDP) to participate in the March 28 and April 11 general elections. The leadership of the party has vowed to continue to wage relentless legal battles until it was registered by commission. This has put the party and INEC on collision course.
The refusal of the Professor Attahiru Jega-led INEC to issue YDP with registration certificate and include the new party in the contest for the 2015 general elections had orchestrated a legal tussle that lasted till March 4 when an Abuja Federal High Court ordered the electoral umpire to register the party. And that may force INEC leadership to spend additional fund to reprint ballot papers that would include the new party.
Following the verdict, the leadership of YDP is now demanding that INEC comply with the judgment delivered by Justice Ahmed Mohammed by not only issuing the party a registration certificate but also including its name and logo on the ballot paper for the elections.
YDP Presidential flagbearer, Alhaji Shettima Yerima told theeconomyng.com in an exclusive interview that the party hierarchy was fully prepared to go extra mile to ensure that justice was done on the matter. “We expect INEC to comply with that order as an institution that has respect for the rule of law. For us, how INEC would do the magic of including YDP in the ballot paper for the March 28 and April 11 elections, I don’t know. But what we want is for them to comply with the court order,” he declared.
“If INEC refuses to obey court order and goes ahead to conduct the elections without the inclusion of our party in the ballot papers, then we will still go back to court to seek justice. The bottom line is that YDP must be included to participate in 2015 election.”
According to him, the impending legal predicament would have been averted if INEC did not choose to play to the gallery with issuance of certificate to YDP. His words: “I can’t imagine that my fundamental human rights to contest for the presidency of Nigeria, which I am qualified and purchased nomination form for could be denied me because INEC failed to do its work properly. Allowing the elections to proceed without inclusion of our party in the ballot paper is not acceptable to me and our party,” he said, emphasizing that YDP was ready to pull the plug on the election for posterity sake.
However, in a bid to stop YDP from compelling the postponement of the rescheduled elections based on INEC’s refusal to include its name and candidates on the ballot papers, the commission has appealed the judgment of Justice Mohammed. In a notice of appeal field by INEC, it faulted the judgment and urged the Court of Appeal to set it aside. INEC raised five grounds of appeal, including that the trial judge erred in granting audience to a group not yet registered as a party. The application is expected to be heard on March 23.
By Olisemeka Obeche