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2011: GROUP SUES INEC, AG, 57 PARTIES OVER ZONING

By NBF News

As the controversy over the propriety of zoning of political offices rages across the polity, a group, Peoples Zone Alliance (PZA), has gone to the Federal High Court in Abuja, seeking a declaration that zoning infringes on the provisions of the 1999 Constitution and must be outlawed.

The group is asking the court to bar political parties from modifying or altering provisions of the constitution by adopting any zoning formula 'that abridges or arrogates the right of Nigerian citizens to participate freely in the government of their country,' as well as prevail on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure no political party adopts any zoning formula or method.

In Suit No: FHC/ABJ?CS/424/2010, filed by an Abuja based lawyer, BB Bamigboye, Alhaji Mohammed Bolori Umar and 12 others are also asking the court to determine whether any of the political parties in the country can validly abridge the right of the people to freely participate in government of their country through the practice of zoning.

Umar, who is president of the group, told journalists in Abuja yesterday that zoning contradicted Sections 131 and 224 of the constitution as well as Article 13 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and had produced nothing in the country but national ridicule.

Lamenting that the practice of zoning had gone unchallenged over the years, Umar said the approach to governance was primitive and selective and that it wasnot participatory,. He added that it was disrespectful to right to choose, detrimental to growth and development.

'In zoning, credible candidates are denied chances to contest elective offices. It contradicts the Nigerian constitution which reserves the right for every Nigerian to participate freely in the governance of his country,' Umar said.

Noting that zoning eliminates choice and reduceed people's ability to produce the most qualified candidates to deliver the country's aims and aspirations as a state, it said INEC should be made to exercise its statutory right to sanction any party that adopts zoning or any similar policy.

'We will embark on proper mobilization of the country through zonal programmes on the need to sanitize our polity. Our people need to be politically empowered through education to call the bluff of the insignificant few that have held the nation hostage politically,' he said.

In a 12-paragraph affidavit in support of the originating summons, one Hussain Abubakar said unless the plaintiffs were vigilant and seek judicial remedy in respect of the disposition, they would 'to all intents and purposes lose all their civil liberties to the clear and present danger of political emasculation, which is engendered by the willful arrogation of civil and political rights of general citizens to a few people.'