The Supreme Court on Friday affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeal which upheld the deregistration of 74 political parties by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The commission had last year deregistered the parties over failures to win any election during the 2019 general elections.
In the judgment prepared by Justice Chima Nweze, the apex court said the deregistration of the National Unity Party (NUP) and the 73 others was done in line with the law and compliance with the extant provisions of the constitution and the Electoral Act.
The NUP had challenged its and the others’ deregistration by INEC at the Federal High Court and the Court of Appeal. The Abuja division of the Appeal Court had on July 29, 2020 affirmed INEC’s powers to deregister political parties.
Delivering the lead judgment of a panel of the court, Justice Adamu Jairo held that INEC did not err in law in deregistering the NUP which filed the appeal.
The court then faulted the judgment of Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja which had earlier in May cancelled the deregistration of the NUP and the 73 other political parties for being in breach of Section 225(a) of the constitution.
The constitutional provision spells out the minimum election victory a party must record or percentage of votes it must score to sustain its status as a registered political party.
INEC, in deregistering the affected 74 political parties in February, stated that they failed to meet the minimum requirement.
After Justice Taiwo’s judgment on the NUP in May, other judges of the Federal High Court in Abuja had also upheld the deregistration of almost 40 other affected parties.