Monday, August 10, 2020 9:29 pm
The Court of Appeal in Abuja on Monday breath a new lease of life to 22 of the 72 political parties deregistered by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC on 6 February as it declared that the commission failed to follow due process in their deregistration
INEC had deregistered the political parties for not meeting the necessary constitutional requirements.
But the appellate, in the lead judgment by Justice Dongban-Mensem, the President of Court of Appeal ordered the reversal of the deregistration of the political parties as the panel unanimously held that INEC ignored due process in exercising its powers under Section 225(a) of the Constitution (as amended).
The court also noted that the affected political parties were already in court before INEC decided to de-register them and also failed to inform the parties why they could no longer exist.
The appellate court equally held that INEC’s acton was not in compliance with the provisions of Section 225(a) of the Constitution because it (INEC) did not indicate reasons for its decision to de-register the appellants.
The court noted that Section 40 of the Constitution entitles citizens to the freedom of association, and as such, the right conferred on a political party cannot be taken away except in accordance with the provisions of the law and due process.
It noted that the appellants were not challenging the legitimacy of the law/constitutional provision under which INEC claimed to have acted, by the process of their deregistration.
The Court of Appeal proceeded to set aside the June 11, 2020 judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja and ordered that the appellants should henceforth be listed as political parties in the country.
The parties are the Advanced Congress of Democrats (ACD), Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party (ANDP), All Blending Party (ABP), All Grand Alliance Party (AGAP), Alliance of Social Democrats (ASD), Change Advocacy Party (CAP), Democratic People’s Congress (DPC), Green Party of Nigeria (GPN), Masses Movement of Nigeria (MMN) and Mega Party of Nigeria (MPN).
Others are: New Generation Party of Nigeria (NGPA), Nigeria For Democracy (NFD), Peoples Coalition Party (PCP), Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA), People for Democratic Change (PDC), Young Democratic Party (YDP), Re-Build Nigeria Party (RBNP), Save Nigeria Congress (SNC), Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN), United Democratic Party (UDP), United Patriots (UP) and We The People of Nigeria (WTPN).
Respondents in the appeal were the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and INEC.
The parties in 2019 sought the interpretation of the novel provision in Section 225(a) in the amended Constitution. But, before the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/444/2019 could be decided, INEC announced its de-registration of parties in February.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that on June 11, 2020, Justice Anwuli Chiekere of the Federal High Court, Abuja, rejected the plaintiffs’ contention, dismissed the suit and upheld INEC’s powers to de-register political parties, a decision the 22 parties appealed at the Court of Appeal.