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8 June 2017
The long standing legal action of the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) blocking its registration suffered another adjournment on Wednesday June 7. This was the 18th time since November 19 2014 when it first came up in court that the matter has been adjourned, and indeed the second adjournment in two days. It is more worrisome that during this period of well over 2 years, the court only sat 7 times while the actual matter of INEC using excuses to refuse the SPN's registration has been mentioned just 5 times.
The matter only proceeded to a hearing for the first time on May 4, 2017 when our lawyer addressed the court to explain our case and was then the case was adjourned to June 6 for the reply of INEC. Unfortunately, on June 6, the matter was not heard but our lawyer was able to force the judge to give us the following day June 7 as the next adjournment date and put our matter as the first on the list of cases he would handle on the day. Sadly, the court did not sit as the judge purportedly just remembered that he had a conference to attend. Now the next hearing date is September 27, 2017.
Incidentally, this latest adjournment happened this same day the INEC announced the registration of an additional five political parties, all of which possibly applied after we had done. It appears there is collusion between the judiciary and the electoral body to deny us registration. This is possibly in line with the resolve of the ruling elite to prevent pro-masses' political parties especially one that openly poses a socialist alternative as the SPN from enjoying a legal existence and being able to stand in elections.
The SPN is in court to challenge the refusal of the INEC to register it despite having fulfilled all legal and constitutional requirements including the onerous ones. These include payment of a non-refundable fee of one million naira, having a national headquarters in Abuja and having on the National Executive Council members from at least 24 states and Abuja.
However, having resolved from the outset that the struggle for SPN registration is as much political as legal; we shall not be daunted by the machination of the ruling elite as we shall continue to intensify political actions to force the INEC to register the party.