The Independent National Electoral Commission on Thursday deregistered 74 political parties on the grounds that they failed to meet requirements for party registration.
The Chairman of INEC, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, who released names of the deregistered political parties at a press conference in Abuja, also said 18 parties made the list of registered parties in the country.
The registered political parties, which reacted angrily to INEC’s decision, said it was sub judice, saying they would take legal action against the commission.
Among the deregistered parties are the National Conscience Party, which was established by the late human rights lawyer, Gani Fawehinmi, SAN, Kowa Party and the United Peoples Party.
They also include Pastor Chris Okotie’s Fresh Democratic Party; Peoples Trust, whose presidential candidate was Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim; the Advanced Allied Party, the All Blending Party, the Advanced Congress of Democrats, the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, the Alliance for Democracy, the All Grassroots Alliance, the All Grand Alliance Party, the Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party, the Alliance For New Nigeria, the Alliance National Party, the Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party, the African Peoples Alliance, the Advanced Peoples Democratic Alliance, the Alternative Party of Nigeria and the Alliance of Social Democrats.
According to INEC, 18 successful parties are the Accord Party, the Action Alliance, Omoyele Sowore’s African Action Congress, the African Democratic Congress, the All Progressives Congress, the All Progressive Grand Alliance and the Allied Peoples Movement.
Others are Labour Party, the New Nigeria Peoples Party, the National Rescue Movement, the Peoples Democratic Party, the Peoples Redemption Party, the Social Democratic Party, the Young Progressives Party, and the Zenith Labour Party.
At the press conference, Yakubu said the commission had fixed the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states for September 19 and October 10 respectively.
He explained that the Boot Party registered after 2019 general elections would continue to exist.
Yakubu said the commission deregistered the 74 political parties because they breached requirements for party registration.
One of the breaches given by him was the failure to win at least 25 per cent of the votes cast in one state of the federation in a presidential election or 25 per cent of the votes cast in one local government area of a state in a governorship election.
Another reason was the failure to win at least one ward in a chairmanship election, one seat in the National Assembly or state houses of assembly elections or one seat in a councillorship election.
While explaining that 75 parties did not satisfy the requirements, he said that one of the parties went to court, saying its fate would be determined by the judiciary.
According to Yakubu, Nigeria now has 18 parties as the Booth Party registered after the 2019 election would continue to exist.
He said, “In order to implement the provision of the Fourth Alteration to the constitution, the commission carried out an assessment of political parties to determine compliance with the requirements for their registration.
“Similarly, following the conclusion of the 2019 general elections, including court-ordered re-runs arising from litigation, the commission was able to determine the performance of political parties in the elections.
“In addition, they were also assessed on the basis of their performance in the area council elections in the Federal Capital Territory which coincided with the 2019 general elections. It should be noted that the FCT is the only part of the country where INEC is empowered by the constitution to conduct LG elections.
“Consequently, the commission has determined that 18 political parties have fulfilled the requirements for existence based on Section 225A of the 1999 constitution (as amended).
“Seventy-five political parties did not satisfy the requirements of the Fourth Alteration to the Constitution. However, one of the political parties, the Action Peoples Party, filed a suit and obtained an order restraining the commission from deregistering it. Consequently, the party remains registered pending the determination of the case by the court.
Nigeria has 18 political parties – INEC chair
“The new political party, Boot Party, registered by court order after the 2019 general elections will also continue to exist. Accordingly, 74 political parties are hereby deregistered. With this development, Nigeria now has 18 registered political parties. The list of the parties will be shared and will also be available on our website and social media platforms.”
He also spoke on the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states with a warning that stakeholders should embrace peace.
Yakubu said, “The tenure of the governors of Edo and Ondo states will end on November 12, 2020 and February 24, 2021 respectively. Pursuant to the provisions of Section 178(2) of the 1999 constitution and Section 25(8) of the Electoral Act 2010, elections cannot hold earlier than 150 days and not later than 30 days before the expiration of the term of office of an incumbent governor.
Edo gov poll for September 19, Ondo October 10
“Accordingly, the commission has fixed Saturday September 19, 2020 as the date for the governorship election in Edo State and Saturday October 10, 2020 for Ondo State.”
He also said by-elections for vacant seats in Kwara, Niger and Kebbi state houses of assembly would be conducted on March 14.
Yakubu reiterated the resolve of INEC to stand firm against acts capable of disrupting the elections.
He warned politicians against snatching of election materials and other forms of violence during elections.
Meanwhile, INEC’s decision to deregister 74 political parties attracted divergent reactions on Thursday.
Some of the deregistered political parties, in separate interviews with The PUNCH, vowed to challenge the commission in court.
It’s sheer injustice, impunity – Fasua
The National Chairman of the Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party, Tope Fasua, stated, “As much as INEC is used to being sued and now I believe it is all a big joke, we shall explore the legal option no matter how feeble it may seem. We shall do that, jointly and severally. This is sheer injustice, impunity, reckless, and a stab in the heart of honest young and not-so-young Nigerians who are tired of playing third class citizens in their own country, watching by the sidelines and arguing away on social media as their country pines away.
“They have done nothing wrong by investing their sweat, tears and blood in their own beloved nation. Sacrifice to motherland can never be outlawed. And a people cannot be corralled by force into joining egbekegbe (bad parties) that they are not desirous of belonging to.”
On his part, the National Chairman of the UPP, Chewas Okorie, said the party would meet over INEC’s decision.
“We are waiting for their (INEC) letter to come so that we will convene our national leadership crisis meeting immediately to take a decision whether to challenge it,” he stated.
But the acting National Chairman of Kowa Party, Mark Adebayo,in an interview with The PUNCH, said, “What INEC has done is to tell Nigerians that if you don’t have enough means for vote- buying and you cannot compromise the electoral process, you cannot survive within the political environment of Nigeria.”
We will challenge it in court – NCP chair
The NCP National Chairman, Yunusa Tanko, indicated that the party would challenge INEC in court.
He stated, “We will challenge this decision in the court of law. It is totally unacceptable to us, it is simply a way of strangulating the voice of the people and it denies Nigerians the opportunity to run for elections on any platform they deem fit and it negates the principle of democracy anywhere in the world.”
Our de-registration, affront to judiciary – UPP
Also, the National Chairman of the United Patriots, Chukwudi Ezeobika, described INEC’s decision to de-register the party as an affront to the judiciary.
Ezeobika, in an interview with The PUNCH, said there was a case pending in court on the issue of de-registration of political parties.
He expressed surprise that despite being aware that the court had a date fixed for the ruling on the matter, INEC still went ahead to de-register 74 political parties.
It is sub judice for INEC to de-register parties – MAJA
The National Chairman of the Mass Action Joint Alliance Party, Chief Chika Ibeneme, said INEC had no right to deregister the political party.
According to him, Inter Party Advisory Council, the umbrella organization of registered political parties, has taken INEC to court on the issue.
In an interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja, she stated that it was sub judice for INEC to de-register the political parties.
The National Chairman of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, Alhaji Ganiyu Galadima, described the party’s deregistration as a rude shock.
The National Publicity Secretary of the Action Democratic Party, Adelaja Adeoye, called on members of the de-registered parties to join the ADP.
A group, the Centre for Transparency Advocacy said it welcomed the decision of INEC, describing it as a bold step.
The Executive Director of CTA, Faith Nwadishi, in a statement in Abuja, advised those whose parties were deregisteered to join the 18 successful ones.
Yusuf Ali backs INEC
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Yusuf Ali, told The PUNCH that INEC had the right to deregister political parties.
Ali said, “INEC has the power because there are thresholds set for political parties after general elections, which they must meet to remain as political parties. Once you do not meet the thresholds, your party is gone.
“We have too many parties. I see it as an abuse of democratic space to have over 90 political parties on the ballot paper, when we know that functionally, there are about three viable parties in the country. None of the political parties is based on ideology.”
It’s illegal – Adegboruwa
But another SAN, Mr Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, described the deregistration of the 75 political parties as an illegality.
Adegboruwa said, “I believe that there is no power in the Independent National Electoral Commission to deregister parties, once registered. Under the freedom of association, in the constitution, once that registration has been done, it is not conditional upon winning or losing election. That Section 40 of the Constitution has been tested by (the late) Chief Gani Fewehinmi up to the Supreme Court, when the party of Balarabe Musa was deregistered by INEC.”
He said INEC could not rely on the Electoral Act to deregister any political party.
But the Buhari Media Organisation supported INEC’s action, saying it would sanitise the electoral process.
The BMO chairman, Niyi Akinsiju, said the reduction of a large number of political parties to 18 had both cost and management implications for INEC.