A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Wednesday, affirmed the power of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to de-register political parties that failed to meet the mandatory requirements of the 1999 constitution.
Justice Evelyn Maha in two separate judgments dismissed the actions filed by the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) and Reform and Advancement Party(RAP) against the INEC as last lacking in merit.
The plaintiffs had in the separate suit challenged their de-registration by the electoral body.
The judge specifically held that the INEC acted in accordance with the provisions of section 225 (a) of the 1999 constitution.
It was the position of the court that the Plaintiffs failed to by preponderance of the evidence, establish why they should continue to racist as political parties, having failed to secure any seat in previous elections.
She pointed out that the the two deregistered parties did not in their pleadings, deny the fact that they were unable to meet the required statutory benchmark contained in section 225 of the Constitution.
While holding the INEC did not act ultra vires it’s powers by de-registering the plaintiffs, added that the commission has a binding obligation to act in accordance with express provisions of the Constitution.
“Section 225 provides the law guiding the existence of political parties in Nigeria.
There is no evidence that the Defendant unlawfully re-registered the 3rd Plaintiff”, the court held.
It said the use of the word “Shall” in section 225 of the Constitution placed a mandatory responsibility on INEC to de-register political parties that failed to meet the constitutional requirement.
But dissatisfied, one of the Plaintiffs, RAP, expressed his readiness to challenge the judgment at the Court of Appeal.
It’s counsel, Mr. Okere Kingdom, maintained that the trial court misunderstood the case it brought before it for adjudication.
RAP said it did not contend the powers of INEC to deregister political parties, but the fact that such action could not be carried out arbitrarily without affording the affected party the opportunity to defend itself.
Kingdom argued that INEC Chairman was bereft of the powers to summarily withdraw the registration of political parties he adjudged to have underperformed.
The party which was among 74 political parties that INEC de-registered on February 6, had in its suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/129/2020, prayed the court to among other things, determine.