Court Dismisses HDP Suit Challenging INEC’s De-Registration of Party

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The Federal High Court on Friday reaffirmed the powers of the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) to deregister political parties.

Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Abuja division of the court reached the decision while delivering judgment in a suit filed by Hope Democratic Party (HDP) challenging the powers of INEC to deregister it as a political party.
The plaintiff had prayed the court to relist it as a political party in Nigeria.

The court maintained that INEC is empowered by the constitution to deregister parties that failed to meet provisions of Section 225(a).

In his judgment, Justice Taiwo said that HDP fell short of Section 225(a) 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 court, he who asserts must prove but the plaintiff has not been able to prove to the court that INEC acted unconstitutionally by deregistering it as a political party.

The court held that, “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).

” The plaintiff ought to gives 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 and the defendant was right to have deregistered the plaintiff having failed to meet the requirements of a political party.

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Last week, Justice Taiwo, had in a landmark judgment delivered in the 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 deregisteration of parties are valid, in conformity with the law, sacrosanct and could not be affected by the fact of anticipated Local govt 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 the INEC in accordance with Section 225A of the 1999 Constitution. The judgment conclusively terminated the legal existence of the Party and also all its other rights and obligations.

The Court also held that the Party failed to show that the exercise of its powers to deregister the party was at variance with the law and also ultra vires its powers. Hence 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.

The Sun

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