INEC has powers to deregister political parties – Court delivers landmark ruling
Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has ruled that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has powers to deregister any political party that fails to meet constitutional requirements.
The judge gave the landmark ruling in a suit filed against the electoral commission by the National Unity Party (NUP), one of the 74 parties it deregistered in February.
Justice Taiwo quashed the plaintiff’s argument that INEC could not deregister it until the local government elections in the states had been completed, rather than just the FCT local elections that the electoral body was constitutionally empowered to conduct.
He ruled that INEC’s constitutional power and the reasons it adduced for deregistering the plaintiff were 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.
Justice Taiwo held that “From the foregoing, I cannot but come to the conclusion that the plaintiff has failed to prove its case and the issues for determination cannot be determined in its favour. The reliefs being sought cannot in anyway be granted in the light of the constitutional provisions under which the suit was brought.
“Arising from the above, this court finds that the de-registration of the plaintiff as a political party was lawfully done in exercise of the vested constitutional powers of the defendant in accordance with the provisions of section 225A of the 1999 constitution (the alterations No.9) Act of 2017, and this has terminated the legal existence of the plaintiff as a political party and consequently any other rights and obligations pertaining thereto.”
The judge held that NUP failed to show that INEC’s exercise of its powers to deregister non-performing political powers was at variance with the law or ultra vires its powers.