INEC has constitutional power to deregister political parties – Lawyer
Mr Realwan Okpanachi, a constitutional lawyer in Abuja, says the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has constitutional power to deregister any political party.
Okpanachi made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Abuja.
The lawyer was reacting to a statement credited to Mr Mohammed Haruna, the INEC Federal Commissioner in charge of Nasarawa, Kogi and Kwara States, that INEC had no power to deregister any of the existing 91 political parties.
Okpanachi told NAN that in response to the proliferation of political parties which metamorphosed into 60 in 2011, the National Assembly amended the Electoral Act 2010.
He stated that this empowered the electoral umpire to deregister any political party which failed to win any election in Nigeria.
He said the position of the law had changed when the constitution, through the Fourth Alteration, No. 9 Act, 2017, enacted in 2017 was assented by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The legal practitioner disclosed that this assent by the president had conferred on INEC the power to deregister political parties by amending Section 225 of the 1999 Constitution.
“By the said amendment and introduction of Section 225(A), INEC can now deregister political parties on grounds of breach of any requirements for registration,’’ he said.
He listed these requirements to include: “Failure to win at least 25 per cent of votes cast in one state of the federation in a presidential election, or one local government of the state in governorship election.
“Failure to win at least one ward in chairmanship election, one seat in the National or State House of Assembly election or one seat in the councillorship election.’’
He said it was quite unfortunate that the electoral body and supervisor of political parties were unaware of their constitutional powers and responsibilities spelt out in Section 225(A) of the constitution.
“Consequently, INEC’s position that it has no power to deregister political parties, its call on the NASS to confer on it, power for deregistration of political parties is indicting on its legal department.
“What INEC should be talking about is how to deregister many of the commercialised political parties that have failed to satisfy any of the conditions in Section 225(A) of the constitution,’’ he said.
He maintained that if INEC exercised its powers pursuant to Section 225(A) of the constitution, the numbers of political parties in Nigeria will reduce from 91 to about seven.