Godwin Tsa, Abuja
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Thursday dismissed the applications filed by the 32 deregistered political parties against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Justice Anwuli Chikere, who delivered the judgement, threw out the suit on the ground that the electoral body had the power to deregister them.
INEC had on February 6th deregistered 74 political parties, leaving 18 others.
But in a suit, the Advanced Congress of Democrats (ACD) and 32 others approached the court to direct INEC to register them.
They listed the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and INEC as respondents.
Although 33 political parties filed the matter in court, two of the parties, Labour Party (LP) and African Democratic Congress (ADC), were later dropped from the suit because the parties were not deregistered by the INEC.
On June 3rd, the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN) had prayed the court to be joined in the suit, bringing the total number of the deregistered parties to be 32.
Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja had also ruled in favour of INEC against the National Unity Party (NUP) and Hope Democratic Party (HDP).
Some of the affected 32 political parties are Advanced Congress of Democrats (ACD) Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party (ANDP) All Blending Party (ABP) All Grand Alliance Party (AGAP) Better Nigeria Progressive Party (BNPP) Democratic People’s Congress (DPC) Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and Green Party of Nigeria (GPN) among others.
In her judgment on Thursday, Justice Anwuli Chikere okayed the powers of the INEC to deregister political parties.
The court in its judgement held that Section 225(a) of the Constitution gives the INEC the powers to deregister parties that failed to comply with the provisions of the Constitution.
The court held that the parties failed to state sufficient facts to support their claims while stating that where a provision of the law is unambiguous, it ought to be given its simple interpretation, hence, Section 225(a) of Constitution is clear and unambiguous and should be interpreted in support of the deregistration done by INEC.
The court also vacated the earlier injunction granted to the parties and dismissed their suit in its entirety.
The parties had filed their suit last year to restrain the INEC from carrying out the exercise when they got to know about the plans of the commission.
The judge had earlier in February issued an order restraining the INEC from acting on the notice deregistering the 32 political parties, pending the determination of the suit.
With this judgment, it now brings the total to 36 the number of political parties that have had their deregistration affirmed by the court.
With the judgment, the fate of the remaining deregistered parties hangs in the balance.
For now, only 18 political parties not deregistered are the lawfully recognised political parties in Nigeria.