By CLEMENT NWOJI, Abuja

Over 51 Political Parties under the aegis of Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) have dragged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to court, seeking an injunction restraining the Commission from interfering with their resumed election campaigns following the postponement of the general election till 23 February, 2019.

The opposition political parties, apart from asking the court to quash the ban on political campaigns by INEC, “is seeking for an exparte order to be issued today restraining INEC from interfering with the Opposition Parties’ Campaign until the midnight of 21st Feb 2019 or giving effect to the illegal camapign Ban Directive.”

The CUPP had directed it’s over 51 member parties to commence their political campaigns today (18th Feb 2019) and end it by midnight of Thursday 21st Feb 2019, contrary to the directive of the INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu.

This is even as the INEC has scheduled to meet today to review the implication of its directive after it had postponed the general election few hours to its commencement which ought to have started Saturday morning, 16 February.

The full statement on the legal battle commenced today at the Federal High Court, Abuja, signed by CUPP 1st National Spokesperson, Ugochinyere Ikenga Imo is as below:

Happening Now
From CUPP
For Immediate Release
18th Feb 2019
9.30am

Opposition Heads to Court to Challenge INEC’s Illegal Directives to stop Political Parties Campaign.

…Ask Court to Restrain INEC and NBC from stopping Opposition campaigns which resumed today.

…Legal Battle to Quash INEC directives for campaigns resumes at Federal High Court Abuja today.

…Buhari and APC behind pressure on INEC to ban campaigns to engineer low voters turnout and give them room to rig Saturday election.

The Controversy over the Illegal order by INEC to Political Parties to stop their campaigns have shifted to the court today. The Opposition Coalition (CUPP) which directed it’s over 51 member parties to commence their political campaigns today (18th Feb 2019) and end it by midnight of Thursday 21st Feb 2019 have dragged the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC before a Federal High Court in Abuja where the opposition is seeking an order of the court to restrain INEC from interfering with the campaigns of the Opposition Political Parties which resumed Nationwide today.

In an suit filled on behalf of the Opposition coalition CUPP by Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere who doubles as Spokesperson for the Opposition and National Chairman of Action Peoples Party APP, the group is seeking for an exparte order to be issued today restraining INEC from interfering with the Opposition Parties’ Campaign until the midnight of 21st Feb 2019 or giving effect to the illegal camapign Ban Directive.

The Opposition in the Originating process filled at the Federal High Court Abuja is asking the Court,

1. “Whether having regard to the combined effect of the mandatory statutory provisions of Sections 99(1), 100(1) and 101(1) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as Amended), INEC can validly issue any directive or make any order stopping, barring or ending campaign by registered political parties, including the Plaintiff APP, for the 2019 General Elections to a period other than 24 hours prior to the date of the elections” and

2. “Whether by Sections 99(1), 100(1) and 101(1) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as Amended) the announcement, directive or order by INEC directing registered political parties, including the APP, to stop or end their campaign for the 2019 General Elections on 14th February, 2019 for polls that will hold on 23rd February, 2019 is not ultra vires its powers, illegal, null, void and of no effect whatsoever”.

The Opposition is thus seeking for “A DECLARATION that:

1. INEC cannot issue any directive or make any order stopping, barring or ending campaign by registered political parties, including the APP, for the 2019 General Elections to a period other than 24 hours prior to the date of the elections;
2. The announcement, directive or order by INEC directing political parties, including the APP, to stop or end their campaign for the 2019 General Elections on 14th February, 2019 for polls that will hold on 23rd February, 2019 is ultra vires its powers, illegal, null, void and of no effect whatsoever; and

3. In view of the postponement of the 2019 Presidential and National Assembly Elections till 23rd February, 2019, APP Party and indeed all registered political parties in Nigeria are legally entitled, pursuant to Sections 99(1), 100(1) and 101(1) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as Amended), to resume forthwith and/or recommence campaign until 21st February, 2019 been 24 hours prior the date of the election.

It will be recalled that yesterday the Opposition Coalition CUPP directed its members Nationwide to hit the camapign roads as required by law and close their campaigns by midnight of Thursday 21st Feb 2019 as demanded by Section 99 of the Electoral Act and in other to avoid any interruption from INEC or the outgoing Ruling APC using state Institutions which have been compromised like NBC, Police or Army, the opposition approached the court this morning to protect its camapign resumption activities from any interference or interruption since the APC govt is pressuring INEC not to allow camapign resumption so that voters turn out will be low for them to manipulate the election.

Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere
CUPP Spokesperson