Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Thursday, ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to re-register three political parties, which it had de-registered with immediate effect.
The Street Journal recalls that INEC had de-registered Musa’s Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), and two others, the Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) and Better Nigeria Progressive Party (BNPP) prior to the 2015 elections following which the parties’ officials challenged INEC’s action in court.
The electoral umpire had premised its action on the provision of Section 78(7)(ii) of the Electoral Act, 2010 as amended to de-register the parties.
Delivering judgment, the judge held that INEC lacked the power to do so, and could not de-register the three political parties except in accordance with the provisions of the constitution and not any other law.
The court also granted an order of perpetual injunction restraining INEC from further attempting to enforce the de-registration policy against the plaintiffs, their offices, properties and assets.
“Having heard all parties in the matter, the court hereby nullifies and sets aside the purported de-registration of the plaintiffs as announced by INEC in some national dailies in December 2012.
“The action is illegal, unconstitutional and null and void.
“INEC is hereby ordered to restore the plaintiffs as political parties in Nigeria and to continue to recognise and deal with them as political parties in the country.
“Section 78(7)(ii) of the Electoral Act, 2010 as amended is unconstitutional, invalid, null and void to the extent of its inconsistency with Sections 1(3), 40 and Sections 221-229 of the constitution,’’ Justice Ademola ruled.
The Judge further held that the de-registration of the parties by INEC on the basis of Section 78(7)(i) of the Electoral Act 2010 without fair hearing amounted to gross violation of Sections 36 and 40 and Sections 221 and 222 of the constitution.
According to Justice Ademola, the 1999 Constitution, as amended, entitles citizens to freedom of assembly, formation of political parties and pressure groups without hindrance.