Why we deregistered 74 political parties despite suits, by INEC
•Says Law Provides For Registration Of New Parties That Meet Requirements
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), yesterday, said contrary to reports in some quarters, there was no court order(s) refraining the Commission from taking its decision to deregister 74 political parties.
The Commission also said it would continue to register political parties as long as they meet the stipulated requirements.
Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, had on Thursday announced at a press conference, the disqualification of 74 political parties on the ground that they failed to meet constitutional requirements that determine the continuous existence of political parties in the country.
However, in its reaction, the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) asked the electoral umpire to rescind its decision to deregister the parties due to pending court action instituted by 33 political parties.
IPAC said it was aware of a court action instituted in the Federal High Court, seeking amongst other things, an order restraining INEC from deregistering concerned political parties, pending the determination of the suit.
But the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the INEC Chairman, Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi, told The Guardian that filing a matter in court alone could not have stopped INEC from carrying out its mandate.
He said: “INEC is a law-abiding institution and our compliance with court orders and judgments have been well reported and documented. When the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, announced the deregistration of 74 political parties on February 6, he revealed that only 16 political parties met the criteria for existence based on Section 225A of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“However, one political party, the Action People’s Party (APP), filed a suit in court and obtained an order restraining INEC from deregistering it. Therefore, the party remains registered until the determination of the case.
“One other party that was registered after last year’s general elections was also spared. This brings the number to 18.
“There is a difference between filing an action in court and obtaining an order. The 33 political parties may have filed a suit in court, but the matter has not been determined yet. To that extent, filing a matter in court alone could not have stopped INEC from carrying out its mandate.”
Oyekanmi further clarified that the constitutional amendment that empowered the Commission to deregister parties did not ask it to stop registering new ones, adding: “As long as associations seeking registration as political parties meet the criteria, INEC will continue to register them.
“The amendment that we are talking about did not ask INEC to stop registering political parties. However, all political parties will now be subjected to assessments, as stipulated under Section 225A and other relevant sections of the law.”
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