Again, Court affirms INEC’s power to deregister political parties

The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has again reaffirmed the powers of the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) to deregister political parties.

The trial Judge, Justice Taiwo Taiwo, in a judgment he delivered in a suit filed by the Hope Democratic Party (HDP) against INEC, challenging the powers of the electoral body to deregister it as a political party.

Justice Taiwo held in the judgment that, INEC is empowered by the constitution to deregister parties that failed to meet provisions of Section 225(a).

HPD had, in its suit, prayed the court to declare that INEC cannot deregister it as a political party except in accordance with the law.

The party also prayed the court to order INEC to relist it as a political party in Nigeria.

In his judgment, Justice Taiwo said that HDP fell short of Section 225(a) of the Constitution and also had nothing to show to the court that the action of INEC to deregister it as a political party was unlawful.

According to the judge, he who asserts must prove and hold that the plaintiff (HDP) has not been able to prove to the court that INEC acted unconstitutionally by deregistering it as a political party.

“The case of the plaintiff is weak and cannot be granted the reliefs sought. The plaintiff has the onus to prove its case but has failed to show to the court that it met the requirements of Section 225(a).

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“The plaintiff ought to give particulars of malice when it alleged that it was deregistered out of malice. The court is not a father Christmas to grant reliefs that have not been sought.

“The defendant has the powers to deregister political parties and the defendant was right to have deregistered the plaintiff, having failed to meet the requirements of a political party”, the judge held.

It would be recalled that Justice Taiwo, had last week, in a judgment delivered in a suit filed by the National Unity Party, one of the 74 parties deregistered by the INEC in February affirmed that the constitutional power of the electoral commission and the reasons given by the Commission for the deregistration of parties are valid, in conformity with the law, sacrosanct and could not be affected by the fact of anticipated Local government elections by some states which dates were not fixed, certain or even ascertainable.

The court, therefore, held that the deregistration of National Unity Party as a political party in Nigeria was lawfully done in exercise of vested constitutional powers of INEC in accordance with Section 225A of the 1999 Constitution.

The Court also held that the Party failed to show that the exercise of INEC’s powers to deregister the party was at variance with the law and also ultra vires its powers and the court came to the conclusion that the Plaintiff (the Party) failed to prove its case and the issues for determination cannot be determined in its favour and the reliefs it sought could not be granted to it.

 

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