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INEC has power to deregister moribund political parties, Appeal Court rules

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The Court of Appeal, Abuja, has held that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has the constitutional power to deregister moribund political parties in Nigeria.

In a unanimous decision delivered by Justice Mohammed Idris with Justices Yargata Nimpar and Peter Ige concurring, the appellate court upheld the decision of Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja.

The lower court had held that Section 225A (b) and (C) of the 1999 Constitution (fourth alteration No. 9) Act 2017 empowers INEC to deregister non-performing political parties.

But dissatisfied with this decision, the appellant, National Unity Party (NUP), approached the appeal court for redress.

Formulating two grounds of appeal, the appellant asked the Appeal Court to hold that it placed sufficient material facts and evidence before the lower court to warrant it to nullify its deregistration by INEC.

It argued that the electoral body erred in law by deregistering it when it was contesting elections at the local levels and asked the court to hold that it was a miscarriage of justice.

The party said that the provisions of section 225 A (b) and (C) of the 1999 Constitution (fourth alteration No. 9) Act 2017 did not catch up with it because it was awaiting the conduct of elections, adding that a party needs not to fulfill all the conditions stated there.

In conclusion, the appellant urged the court to hold that the powers of INEC under Section 225A of the Constitution were wrongly exercised, thereby making it ultra vires and therefore null and void.

But in resolving the issue in favour of INEC, Justice Idris on July 29, 2020 held that the lower court was right in deregistering the appellant.

He ruled: “It is therefore my well-considered view that the learned trial judge was right in its interpretation of the said provisions and has therefore occasioned no miscarriage of justice to the appellant.

“From my findings on this issue therefore, it is my strong and unshaken view that the appellant did not place sufficient evidence before the trial court. This issue is hereby resolved in favour of the respondent against the appellant.

“In the final result, I hereby uphold the decision of the trial court in its entirety. I hold that the appeal is lacking in merit and thus dismissed. I make no order as to cost.”


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