Lawyer drags APC, PDP and INEC to court over parties’ outrageous nomination fees

c francis moneke
c francis moneke

From Aloysius Attah, Onitsha

An Anambra based human rights lawyer and Executive Director of Human Rights and Empowerment Project Ltd/Gte, Francis Moneke, has through his counsel, Ikenna Okoli, SAN filed a suit against the APC, PDP and INEC challenging the propriety, legality and constitutionality of the outrageous nomination form fees imposed by the political parties on aspirants for various elective positions in the forthcoming 2023 general elections.

The suit filed on Monday 9th May 2022 at the Federal High Court Abuja is marked as Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/618/2022, brought under the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules, 2009 and pursuant to Article 13 (1) of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.

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The lawyer in the suit is seeking among other reliefs sought in the application,

A declaration by the court that the requirement by the 1st and 2nd respondents (APC and PDP) that members of their parties that wish to contest for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the forthcoming 2023 general elections should pay ₦100,000,000 and ₦40,000,000 respectively to purchase nomination forms violates Article 13 (1) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification & Enforcement) Act, Cap. A9, LFN, 2004, being also contrary to the provisions of Section 84 (3) of the Electoral Act, 2022 and the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) relating to qualifications of candidates for elective positions in Nigeria.

The suit is also seeking a declaration that the act of the 1st and 2nd respondents and other political parties in fixing various amounts of money for the purchase of nomination forms by members of their political parties who wish to contest for various elective positions in the forthcoming 2023 general elections and any other elections violates Article 13 (1) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification & Enforcement) Act, Cap. A9, LFN, 2004, being also contrary to the provisions of Section 84 (3) of the Electoral Act, 2022 and the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) relating to qualifications of candidates for elective positions in Nigeria.

Also a declaration that the 3rd respondent (INEC) is obligated to ensure that all political parties in Nigeria comply strictly with the provisions of the Electoral Act and any other law relating to elections and the qualification and participation of Nigerians in such elections.

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He is therefore seeking an order compelling the 1st and 2nd respondents to forthwith cancel the requirement for the payment of money for the purchase of nomination forms for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria or any other elective political office in the forthcoming 2023 general elections or any other elections and to immediately refund any candidate who has paid any amount whatsoever for the purchase of nomination form.

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Another order compelling the 1st and 2nd respondents to avail any member of their political parties who wish to contest for any elective political office in the forthcoming 2023 general elections or any other elections with their nomination form free of charge.

And another order directing the 3rd respondent to refuse to recognise, for any election in Nigeria to be conducted by the 3rd respondent, any political party that is in violation of the law by levying fees for the purchase of nomination forms.

And for such further order or other orders as the Honourable Court may deem fit to make in the circumstance.

According to the Applicant, the above reliefs sought from the court are predicated on the grounds that:

The act of the 1st and 2nd respondents in putting huge price tags for the procurement of nomination forms by Nigerians and members of their political parties who wish to contest for various elective political offices in the forthcoming 2023 general elections and elections generally amounts to a gross violation of Article 13 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification & Enforcement) Act, Cap. A9, LFN, 2004, which guarantees the right of every Nigerian to free access to participate directly in the government of the country.

The relevant sections of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) clearly outlined the criteria for qualification to contest for various elective political offices in Nigeria either at the Federal or State level, and nothing in those provisions requires payment of nomination fees by candidates or authorises political parties to levy any fees on aspirants for procurement of nomination forms.

The Applicant argues that the sponsorship and nomination of candidates for election though being a matter seemingly within the purview of a political party’s internal affairs, the court has the jurisdiction to strike down such exercise of a party’s right when it violates the law and/or the Constitution.

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