By Chukwudi Nweje
Pastor Peters Osawaru Omoragbon, governorship candidate of the National Conscience Party (NCP), in the Edo State 2020 election has charged the National Assembly to ensure that the ongoing amendment process of the 1999 Constitution brings forth true democracy in Nigeria.
He asked the National Assembly to ensure that the right of political parties to exist is guaranteed by the constitution by deleting section 225 A which vests the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) with the power to de-register political parties over failure to win a certain percentage of votes and re-enact section 228 which was deleted in its First Alteration Act of 2010.
He said, “The provisions of Section 225A which empowers the Independent National Electoral Commission to de-register political parties for failure to win election, are antithetical to the Constitution and international best practices, and must be expunged from the Constitution. Therefore, in line with the principles of Democracy and Social Justice, the ideals of Freedom, Equality, and Justice and ultimately the need for the continued recognition of the right to Freedom of Association, the provisions of section 225 A of the constitution must be expunged, and the provisions of section 228 restored in the Constitution.”
The deleted section 228 provided for the punishment of any person involved in the management or control of any political party found after due enquiry to have contravened any of the provisions of section 221, 225(3) and 227 of the constitution.
Omoragbon also said de-registration of political parties contradicts Section 40 of the Constitution which guarantees freedom of association.
He further said, “Clearly, in enacting the provisions of section 225A of the Constitution, the National Assembly did not consider the fact that Nigeria is a state founded on the principles of democracy, social justice and the ideals of freedom, equality and justice. The right to freedom of association, as enshrined in Section 40 of the constitution, is principally meant to protect ones’ interests. Interests are bound to vary with different people and groups. The right to freedom of association is intertwined with the rights to freedom of thought, freedom of expression and freedom from discrimination for one’s political views or affiliation. The thoughts and views of a group of people of like minds on national issues, give rise to their opinion and ideologies, the basis upon which political parties are formed. These rights are intrinsic and inalienable.”
He argued that the only way to guarantee the principles of democracy and social justice and the ideals of freedom, equality justice as well as the right to freedom of association is to restore the deleted section 228 in the anticipated new constitution.