A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory High Court in Apo has declared as illegal the continued occupation of the office of the Chairman of the Inter-party Advisory Council (IPAC) by Chief Peter Ameh.
In a judgment on Monday, Justice Binta Mohammed held that Ameh could no longer remain in office as IPAC Chairman, because his political party, Peoples Progressive Alliance (PPA) was one of the 74 parties recently de-registered by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The judgement was in a suit by National Unity Party (NUP) with which it challenged the decision by the 18 political parties (that were left as member of IPAC after the de-registration of the 74 parties) to appoint an interim Chairman.
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The NUP had prayed the court to declare that the interim management committee put in place by the 18 political parties, was not validly elected, therefore, cannot run the affairs of IPAC.
It also urged the court to declare that the interim management committee cannot function side by side with the executive committee led by Peter Ameh.
In the judgment on Monday, Justice Mohammed noted that “membership of IPAC is predicated on being a member of a political party. There is no way a person who is not a member of a political party can be a member of IPAC.”
‘She held that a deregistered political party cannot contest or sponsor candidate for election.
“The said Ameh was a former chairman of PPA and, since his party has been deregistered or no longer in existence, he can no longer be the chairman of a political party.
”His continues stay in office is tied to his being a member of PPA and since his party has been deregistered, he ceases to be IPAC chairman.
”His stay in office is automatically void. You cannot put something on nothing, it will surly collapse. The number of registered political parties in Nigeria now is 18.
”The 18 parties can only choose leaders among them. There is now a vacancy in the office of the chairman of IPAC, since PPA has been deregistered.
”The 18 parties have power to appoint interim management committee since they are the remaining political parties in Nigeria today.
“The claimant has not shown how the appointment of the respondent violates the laws of IPAC.
”The respondent should continue to enjoy his position as the interim chairman of IPAC, pending when election will be conducted.
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This court, hereby restrain the claimant from interfering with the duties of the respondent as the interim management chairman of IPAC,” Justice Mohammed said.
Reacting to the judgment, the interim Chairman, Dr. Leonard Nzenwa praised the Judiciary for rising to its name as the last hope of the common man.
Nzenwa said: “by this judgment, our electoral jurisprudence has been enriched and calm has also returned to the IPAC after months of leadership tussle to afford it the opportunity to commence engagement with other stakeholders for the much needed electoral reforms.”
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