Deregistration of political parties: INEC approaches Supreme Court

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) last night gave an indication that it would approach the apex court to set aside the judgment of the appeal court which overruled it on the delisting of political parties.

The electoral umpire had delisted 77 political parties after the 2019 general elections. It premised its action on the failure of the parties to win a single seat in the last elections.

Twenty-two of the affected political parties led by Advanced Congress of Democrats had filed a suit before the Federal High Court, Abuja.

Justice Anwuli Chikere in a judgment delivered on  June 11, 2020, dismissed the suit, challenging the powers of INEC to deregister political parties.

But a five-man Court of Appeal in a unanimous judgment delivered on Monday by President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, held that the deregistration was illegal as it submitted that it did not follow due process INEC in a statement issued last night and signed by Festus Okoye, its National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, however, said it would appeal the judgement before the Supreme Court.

The Commission citing a pronouncement by same Court of Appeal which upheld its pronouncement to delist political parties in a suit filed by the National Unity Party (NUP), INEC noted that it would seek a final interpretation of the apex court since the appellate court has given conflicting judgement on the same matter.

The statement read in part:” The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is in receipt of the judgement of the Court of Appeal delivered today, August 10, 2020, in an Appeal filed by ACD and 22 others relating to their deregistration by the Commission. In the judgement, the Court of Appeal held that the deregistration of ACD & 22 others is ultra vires the powers of the Commission and ordered the Commission to reinstate them.

“We recall that on July 29, 2020, the Court Appeal, Abuja Judicial Division in an appeal filed by the National Unity Party (NUP) affirmed the power of the Commission (INEC) to deregister political parties that fail to meet the constitutional threshold in section 225A. Dissatisfied with the judgment the National Unity Party lodged an appeal which is presently pending before the Supreme Court.

“The Commission is therefore faced with two conflicting judgements from the Court of Appeal; one affirming the powers of the Commission to deregister political parties and the other set aside the deregistration of ACD & 22 others.

“Faced with two conflicting judgements from the same Court, the Commission is not in a position to pick and choose which one of them to obey.

“Consequently, the Commission will approach the Supreme Court for a final resolution of the issues raised in the two conflicting judgements.

“Meanwhile, the Commission is focused on preparations for the conduct of the Edo and Ondo governorship elections scheduled to hold on September 19, 2020, and October 10, 2020, and is strictly and methodically following its timetable and schedule of activities derived from the Constitution and the Electoral Act. We assure Nigerians and the people of Edo and Ondo States that the Commission is on course and will deliver on its mandate.”

 

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