Supreme Court affirms INEC’s power to deregister political parties


Supreme Court…dismisses NUP’s appeal as lacking in merit

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri

The Supreme Court, on Friday, affirmed the powers of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to deregister underperforming political parties in the country.

Consequently, the apex court, in a unanimous decision by a five-man panel of Justices, dismissed as lacking in merit, an appeal the National Unity Party, NUP, filed to challenge its deregistration by INEC.

The apex court panel which delivered the judgement in a virtual proceeding that was led by Justice Mary Odili, said it found no reason to set-aside the concurrent findings of the Federal High Court and the Court of Appeal, which had earlier upheld INEC’s decision to deregister some political parties.

It will be recalled that NUP was among 74 political parties that INEC deregistered on February 6 last year for failing to win any seat in either Federal, State or Local Government level, during the 2019 general elections.

The NUP, which was dissatisfied with INEC’s decision, subsequently lost its bid to be relisted as a political party by both the High Court and the Court of Appeal.

It had among other things, contended that INEC’s action was arbitrary, unconstitutional and amounted to an infringement of its right as a political association.

Meanwhile, in its lead judgement that was delivered on Friday by Justice Adamu Jauro, the Supreme Court, held that INEC acted within the law and in compliance with extant provisions of the Electoral Act.

The apex court maintained that the lower courts were right when they held that section 225(a) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, empowered INEC to deregister any political party that failed to meet the statutory threshold of the registration requirement for political parties.

It therefore dismissed NUP’s appeal and ordered parties in the matter to bear their litigation cost.

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