A leading human rights activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana has said the Independent National Electoral Commission has the power to de-register political parties that failed to scale some minimum electoral tests.
Speaking in relation to the 2019 presidential elections where there were over 70 political parties contesting, Falana stated that following the 2017 constitutional amendment, INEC had the power to cut down number of parties drastically.
In a statement on Sunday, Falana said the application of the rules will see the number of political parties cut from 91 to fewer than 10.
He recalled how some political parties successfully challenged INEC’s power after the amendment of the Electoral Act in 2010. He said the National Assembly bolstered the commission via the constitutional amendment.
“Disturbed by the mockery of multi-party democracy in the country through the unprincipled proliferation of political parties the National Assembly amended the Electoral Act 2010 to empower INEC to de-register political parties that failed to win any election.
“Since political parties were registered pursuant to section 222 of the Constitution the suits filed by the affected political parties succeeded as the Federal High Court declared the amendment unconstitutional and set it aside.
“However, the National Assembly took advantage of the 2017 constitutional review to reduce the number of registered political parties in the country. Thus, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (Fourth Alteration, No 9) Act, 2017 enacted on May 4, 2017 has amended section 225 of the 1999 Constitution to empower the Independent National Electoral Commission to de-register political parties,” Falana wrote.
“Among the grounds are that a party can be de-registered if it breaches any of the requirements for registration and fails to win at least twenty-five percent of votes cast in one State of the Federation in a Presidential election; or one Local Government of the State in a Governorship election.
“A party can also be de-registered if it fails to win at least one ward in the Chairmanship election; one seat in the National or State House of Assembly election; or one seat in the Councillorship election.
“From the foregoing, it is indubitably clear that INEC has been conferred with enormous powers to de-register political parties that fail to meet the fresh constitutional prerequisites.
“Going by the results of the 2019 general elections the 91 registered political parties may have been reduced to less than 10 that may have scaled the constitutional hurdle.
Falana, who deplored the opportunism of some political parties, as demonstrated in the last general election, urged INEC to sanitise the democratic space by applying the rules and enforcing relevant provisions of the constitution and the electoral act.
“INEC is called upon to formulate new guidelines for the registration political parties within the ambit of the Constitution.
“This should be done in view of the fact that not less than 100 political associations are said to have submitted applications for the registration of new political parties. With respect to registered political parties INEC must fully comply with section 225(2) of the Constitution by sanctioning them if they fail to submit a detailed annual statement and analysis of their sources of funds and assets.
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