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Party Deregistration: Okotie Says PDP Is Afraid of Him

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Adebayo Folorunsho-Francis is a communicator, Journalist, blogger, business coach and, of course, a prolific writer. He has Dip (Journalism) and B.A. (History & International Relations) from the Lagos State University (LASU). The self-effacing young man has worked for national, regional and local newspapers. He had worked with THISDAY covered community news for ISLAND NEWS and corresponded with P.M. NEWS (evening tabloid). Presently, he is the editor of CITYPULSE MEDIA and senior correspondent of PHARMANEWS, West Africa foremost health and pharmaceutical journal.

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