Deregistration of 74 Political Parties, Court Upheld INEC Decision

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The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has upheld the power of the independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to deregister political parties which failed to comply with the provision of the law particularly section 225 A of the 1999 constitution as amended.


The presiding Judge, Justice Taiwo O. Taiwo while delivering his judgement in a suit filed by the National unity Party, one of the 74 political parties deregistered by the INEC in February affirming that the constitutional power of the INEC and the reasons given by the commission for deregistering of such parties are valid reasons, in the compliance with the law, binding and cannot be reversed simply some states have slated for the conducting of local Government elections.

Therefore, the Court upheld that deregistering of the National unity Party as a political party and any other party being done by the INEC remain valid in accordance with section 225A of the 1999 constitution as amended. Consequently, the court legally terminated the lawful existence of the party as a political party in Nigeria.

The court also held that the party failed to convince the court that the exercise of such powers by the INEC was at variance with the law and also ultra vires its powers.

Hence the court concludes that the plaintiff (party) failed to prove its case and therefore cannot be ruled in its favour.

The court in its judgement throws away the argument of the NUP which is the same legal argument by the other 74 deregistered political parties that suffered the same fate until all local government elections in the country are held instead of the FCT alone that the constitution empowers INEC to conduct, that INEC cannot deregister them before now.

The deregistration controversy erupted between the INEC and the 74 political parties which INEC stated clearly after the conclusion of the general election that any party who failed to win any political office must be deregistered and which the court has upheld today.

By this judgement, only 18 political parties would be participating in the Edo and Ondo Governorship election that are slated for September and October 2020.

Some Lawyers who spoke on the judgement are of the unanimous opinion that with the ruling of this court, it will be near impossible for another High Court to rule otherwise, saying though the court of coordinate jurisdiction as it would have followed that of the court of appeal or Supreme court, the judgement would be persuasive and another High court judge would need to find a marked difference before it can deviate from the earlier judgement.

While reacting to the ruling, the acting President of the inter-party Advisory council, IPAC and AAC party chairman Dr Leonard Nzenwa said that until upturned by the appeal court, the judgement of the court in the position of the law that only 18 political parties would be recognised by INEC in Edo and Ondo election and that the parties are ready for the election.