By Emman Ovuakporie
ABUJA—House of Representatives Committee on Electoral Matters, weekend, threw its weight behind the decision of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to de-list 28 political parties.
The committee also disclosed that the Budget Office diverted a huge but undisclosed sum meant for INEC in the 2012 budget to a secret account, before the money was quickly returned to the commission when the legislators intervened.
The apex electoral body is empowered by Electoral Act 2010 as amended, and the 1999 Constitution to de-register political parties that would have defaulted on certain provisions relating to their existence in Nigeria.
Chairman of the Committee, Jerimon Manwe, PDP-Taraba, who gave his committee’s nod to the action of INEC, said the committee had no problems with INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega’s decision to de-list the affected parties.
He said: “I, as a lawmaker, made the law, and INEC is supposed to implement the law and they are doing it.
“Why should I summon them for carrying out their duties as they have been asked to do, based on the Constitution?
“We are not saying there is no provision in the law to allow for freedom of association, but those associating must be guided by law. That is why laws are made.
“Laws are made to be obeyed. You are qualified to be President of this country. You are also qualified to be a member of the House of Representatives.
“However, there are guidelines that you need to follow right from the constitution. And so far INEC has done nothing wrong.”
He, however, dismissed suspicions that INEC might have played the script of a Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, agenda to foist a single-party system on the country.
He explained that both the constitution and electoral laws were made by all parties in the country, including the affected ones.
On 2015 election, he disclosed that INEC and other stakeholders would hold talks on the loopholes in the previous elections, with the hope of addressing them in subsequent polls.
Manwe said: “Was it PDP that wrote the constitution or the electoral act? The electoral act was the product of all political parties; we had APGA, PRP, ACN, ANPP, and several other parties who sat and made these laws.”