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Friday, April 23, 2021

Deregistration ruling: INEC heads for Supreme Court

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The Independent National Electoral Commission has acknowledged receipt of the judgement of the Court of Appeal which nullified the de-registration of political parties but affirmed that it would head to the Supreme Court.

The commission, however, said it was faced with two conflicting judgements from the Court of Appeal: one affirming its powers to deregister political parties and the other setting aside the de-registration of ACD and 22 others.

The decision by INEC to proceed to the apex court “for a final resolution of the issues raised in the two conflicting judgements,” was contained in a statement by its National Commissioner and chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye on Monday.

He said, “We recall that on July 29, 2020, the Court Appeal, Abuja Judicial Division in an appeal filed by the National Unity Party affirmed the power of the commission (INEC) to deregister political parties that fail to meet the constitutional threshold in section 225A.

“Dissatisfied with the judgment the NUP lodged an appeal which is presently pending before the Supreme Court. The commission is therefore faced with two conflicting judgements from the Court of Appeal: One affirming the powers of the commission to deregister political parties and the other setting aside the deregistration of ACD and 22 others.

“Faced with two conflicting judgements from the same court, the commission is not in a position to pick and choose which one of them to obey.

“Consequently, the commission will approach the Supreme Court for a final resolution of the issues raised in the two conflicting judgements.

The Court of Appeal in Abuja on Monday had reversed the deregistration of 22 political parties, by the Independent National Electoral Commission.

The judgment delivered by a five-man panel headed by the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, set aside the earlier June 11, 2020 verdict of the Federal High Court in Abuja which had affirmed the deregistration of 32 political parties including the 22 appellants.

The political parties were among the total of 74 whose deregistration INEC announced in a press statement in February this year.

But the five-man panel of the Court of Appeal unanimously overturned the Federal High Court’s judgment on the grounds that the cancellation of the parties’ registration failed to follow due process.

The 22 political parties whose registration was restored by the Court of Appeal on Monday are Avanced Congress of Democrats, Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party, All Blending Party, All Grand Alliance Party, Alliance of Social Democrats, Better Nigeria Progressive Party, Change Advocacy Party, Democratic People’s Congress, Green Party of Nigeria, and Masses Movement of Nigeria.

They also include Mega Party of Nigeria, New Generation Party of Nigeria, Nigeria for Democracy,

Peoples Coalition Party, Progressives Peoples Alliance, People for Democratic Change, Young Democratic Party, Re-build Nigeria Party, Save Nigeria Congress, Socialist Party of Nigeria, United Democratic Party, United Patriots, and We The People Nigeria.

But the Monday’s verdict contradicts an earlier July 29, 2020 judgment of the same Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal.

The said July 29 judgment had affirmed the deregisteration of the National Unity Party.

Delivering the lead judgment of a panel of the court, Justice Mohammed Idris had held that INEC did not err in law in the deregisteration NUP.

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