Supreme Court Says INEC Can Deregister Political Parties

Supreme Court affirms INEC's power to deregister political parties

Moses Ofodeme

The Supreme Court, on Friday, May 7, affirmed the powers of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to deregister underperforming political parties.

The Supreme Court in a zoom sitting said the deregistration of NUP, one of the 74 parties, was done; in line with the laws as well as compliance with the extant provisions of the Constitution and Electoral Act.

In the lead judgment, Justice Adamu Jauro held that INEC did not err in law in the deregistration of the National Unity Party, which filed the appeal.

The Supreme Court upheld the judgment of Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja which had earlier ruled the deregistration of NUP; as well as 73 other political parties for being in breach of section 225(a) of Nigeria Constitution.

The constitutional provision stated the minimum election victory a party must record; or percentage of votes it must poll to sustain its status as a registered political party.

INEC, in deregistering the affected 74 political parties stated that they failed to meet the minimum requirement.

Reacting to the judgment, the President of the Inter-Party Advisory Council, Dr Leonard Nzenwa applauded the judgment; and said the judgment had ended all speculations; and this will aid INEC to now focus on critical issues in preparation for delivering credible, free and fair 2023 general election.

INEC had in 2020 deregistered the parties; over failures to win any election during the 2019 general elections.

In the appeal before the apex court, NUP challenged their deregistration by INEC; at the Federal High Court and the Court of Appeal.

The Abuja Division of the Appeal Court had on July 29, 2020, affirmed the powers of the National Independent National Electoral Commission to deregister political parties.

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