The National Conscience Party (NCP) has filed an appeal against a court ruling which backed a recent decision by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to de-register political parties that failed to meet certain electoral requirements. One of the grounds INEC used to determine political parties that deserved rustication was a failure to win a presidential or governorship election as well as inability to have members at the National Assembly.
At a press briefing earlier today, the NCP’s chairman, Yunusa Tanko, rejected the ruling by Justice Okon Abang which held that INEC had the power to de-register political parties that had failed to win previous elections.
Although the NCP had not been de-registered by INEC, the party said it felt it was necessary to challenge the electoral body’s exercise of the provisions of Section 78 (7) (ii) of the Electoral Act 2010. The party spokesman said his fellow members feared that INEC’s exercise of the powers to de-register might eventually affect the National Conscience Party. The party’s appeal argues that the section of the electoral law related to the de-registering of political parties contravenes Section 40 of Nigeria’s 1999 constitution. The party intends to plead in court that the constitution should supersede other laws, including electoral ones.
Addressing the press today, Mr. Tanko stated that Justice Abang’s ruling had a bias for the National Assembly and the INEC as the bodies that respectively promulgated and executed the electoral law pertaining to de-registration of parties.
“The learned judge even went as far as encouraging INEC to be indolent, holding brief for INEC and saying that if the political parties are too many INEC will not be able to conduct elections,” said the chairman of the NCP. “This is unheard of,” Mr. Yunusa complained.
He cited the examples of countries with hundreds of political parties without any requirement that all of them must win elections or lose their status through de-registration. His examples included the United States of America, a country whose style of democracy Nigeria tries to emulate, according to the NCP leader.
The party wants the Nigerian Court of Appeal to set aside Justice Abang’s verdict announced on March 6 upholding INEC’s power to de-register political parties.