A Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja and presided over by Justice Anwuli Chikere on Thursday affirmed the deregistration of 32 political parties.
Dismissing the suit file by the parties, Justice Chikere, in her judgment, dismissed the suit filed by the parties against the powers of the Independent National Electoral Commission to deregister them and held that the commission rightly deregistered the parties in line with the provision of Section 225(a) of the Nigerian Constitution.
The political parties were among the 74 parties that were deregistered by the INEC on February 6, 2020, on the grounds of poor performance at the 2019 general elections and they had filed the suit in 2019 to restrain INEC from deregistering them when they got wind of the commission’s plan.
Earlier, the judge had on February 17, issued an order restraining INEC from deregistering the 32 political parties, pending the determination of the suit.
However, with its judgment on Thursday, the court not only discharged the restraining order, but also validated the commission’s action, upholding INEC’s constitutional powers to deregister political parties.
Some of the affected 32 political parties include: Advanced Congress of Democrats, ACD; Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party, ANDP; All Blending Party, ABP; All Grand Alliance Party, AGAP; Better Nigeria Progressive Party, BNPP; Democratic People’s Congress, DPC; Freedom and Justice Party, FJP; and Green Party of Nigeria, GPN.
Recall that last month, Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the same court had in two separate judgments also upheld the powers of INEC to register and deregister political parties, in line with relevant sections of the Constitutions and the Electoral Act, when he affirmed the deregistration of the National Unity Party, NUP, and the Hope Democratic Party, HDP, by the electoral commission.
In the instant judgement, Justice Chikere held that the deregistered political parties failed to state sufficient facts to support their claims; insisting that where a provision of the law is unambiguous, it ought to be given its simple interpretation, hence, Section 225(a) of the Constitution is clear and unambiguous and should be interpreted in support of the deregistration done by INEC.
The judgment now brings to 36 the number of political parties which had been deregistered by INEC and with this latest court ruling, the fate of the remaining deregistered parties hang in the balance.
Presently, the number of political parties lawfully recognized in the country is 18.