INEC: Why we deregistered 74 parties

Prior to the 2019 general election, Nigeria had 91 political parties. One more party was registered by court order after the election, making a total of 92 political parties. The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) vests in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) the power to register and regulate the activities of political parties. You will also recall that in 2018, the Constitution was amended. In addition to the extant provision for the registration of political parties, the Fourth Alteration to the Constitution (Section 225A) empowers the Commission to deregister political parties.

Prior to the Fourth Alteration, the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) had provided for the deregistration of political parties. Based on this provision, the Commission, between 2011 and 2013, deregistered 39 political parties. However, several of the parties challenged the power of INEC to deregister them, particularly on the ground that the Electoral Act is inferior to the Constitution and that deregistration infringed their fundamental rights under the same Constitution. Subsequently, the courts ordered the Commission to reinstate the parties. It was for this reason that the National Assembly amended the Constitution to empower the Commission to deregister political parties on the following grounds:

λBreach of any of the requirements for registration as a political party.

λFailure to win at least 25% of the votes cast in one State of the Federation in a Presidential election or 25% of the votes cast in one Local Government Area of a State in a governorship election.

λFailure to win at least one ward in a chairmanship election, one seat in the National or State Assembly election or one seat in a councillorship election.

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 election, including court-ordered re-run elections arising from litigations, 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 (FCT) which coincided with the 2019 general election. It should be noted that the FCT is the only part of the country where INEC is empowered by the Constitution to conduct local government elections.

Consequently, the commission has determined that 16 political parties have fulfilled the requirements for existence based on Section 225A of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) as follows:

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 (APP), filed a suit in court and obtained an order restraining thecommission from deregistering it. Consequently, the party remains registered pending the determination of the case by the court.

The new political party, Boot Party (BP), registered by court order after the 2019 general election will also continue to exist.

Accordingly, 74 political parties are hereby deregistered. With this development, Nigeria now has 18 registered political parties.

On Edo and Ondo governorship elections

The tenure of the Governors of Edo and Ondo states will end on 12th November 2020 and 24th February 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. Accordingly, the commission has fixed Saturday 19th September 2020 as the date for the governorship election in Edo State and Saturday 10th October 2020 for Ondo State. Detailed Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the two elections will be published on our website and social media platforms shortly.

Similarly, the commission is conducting by-elections in three constituencies as a result of the deaths of some serving members of the National and State Assemblies. The Honourable Speaker of the House of Representatives has declared vacancy in Magama/Rijau Federal Constituency of Niger State. Similarly, the Honourable Speaker of the Kwara State House of Assembly has declared a vacancy in Patigi State Constituency while the Speaker of the Sokoto State House of Assembly has declared the Kebbe State Constituency vacant. These by-elections will hold simultaneously in the three States of the Federation on Saturday 14th March 2020. Again, the detailed Timetable and Schedule of Activities will be published on our website and social media platforms shortly.

On this note, let me reiterate the resolve the Commission to stand firm against acts capable of disrupting the elections. As we are all aware, election is a process. However, the process does not begin and end with Election Day activities. The conduct of party primaries, nomination of candidates, election campaigns and the submission of the list of polling agents are also essential to the electoral process. Above all, good behaviour by all officials and actors involved is crucial for success. I wish to remind all parties and candidates that violence during party primaries and electioneering, the snatching of election materials or the deployment of thugs against INEC officials, observers, the media and unarmed security personnel at polling units are acts punishable under our electoral laws. Already, the political atmosphere in a particular state is charged. No one should regard the release of the timetable for the elections as a signal to further escalate tension or a call to commence the recruitment of goons and arming of thugs and hoodlums.

λAn address by the INEC chairman, Prof. Yakubu, on the status of political parties and conduct of some off-season and by-elections.

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