A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Wednesday restrained the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from deregistering the National Conscience Party (NCP).
Justice Okon Abang, gave the order while ruling on the NCP’s application for interlocutory injunction to restrain INEC from deregistering any political party pending the determination of the suit challenging the power of the INEC to do so.
The judge, who said the other political parties who are not parties in the suit cannot benefit from the order, ruled that the order of injunction will subsist until the final determination of the said suit.
“The order of the court is only binding on the parties before it,” he said.
He also said the order must be endorsed with Form 48 (Notice of consequence of disobedience of court order) and should be “served personally” on the INEC Chairman, Attahiru Jega.
The court’s order followed an undertaking by the INEC’s counsel, Adeniyi Lawal, that NCP will not be deregistered pending the determination of the suit.
The judge said the ruling based on consent of INEC “is equivalent to not opposing the application for the interlocutory injunction.”
He said, “Based on the consent of all parties, an order of court is hereby made restraining the third defendant (INEC), its agents or privies from deregistering the first plaintiff pending the determination of the substantive suit.”
The Counsel for the National Assembly, Wahab Shittu, had earlier withdrawn his preliminary objection to the suit and his opposition to the granting of the interlocutory injunction.
He said his move was to protect the integrity of the court.
INEC’s lawyer had asked for an adjournment to enable him file the commission’s response, an application which counsel for the NCP, Eyarhono, opposed on the grounds that INEC had not taken the matter serious since it was served with the processes of the suit in October 2011.
The judge acknowledged that INEC “had not shown any interest in prosecuting the case” having failed to file any defence since the processes of the suit were served on it in October 11, 2011.
He agreed to adjourn the case upon undertaking that the NCP, in particular, would not be deregistered until the final determination of the suit.
The Attorney-General of the Federation, the second defendant in the suit, had not filed any defence in the suit.
The matter was adjourned till November 27 for hearing.