The INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, announced the deregistration on February 6.
The latest act by the electoral umpire was welcomed with mixed feelings. While many applauded INEC’s decision saying it will strengthen the electoral process, some have said it is not a good idea.
The recent deregistration of political parties brings the total number of parties in Nigeria to 18.
A total of 8,141 voters participated in the poll which was conducted on the PREMIUM TIMES’ website and on its official Twitter and Facebook pages.
The poll lasted for about seven days and was conducted in a way that made it impossible for a respondent to vote more than once from the same computer or mobile device.
Participants were asked a single question: “Is the deregistration of some political parties by INEC a good move?” with options of “yes”, “no”, “we need less parties” and “I don’t care.”
On the Facebook page, 5,000 respondents (94 per cent) aligned themselves with INEC while 302 participants (six per cent) kicked against the idea.
On Twitter, 1,409 participants (70.7 per cent) voted in support of INEC, 82 respondents (4.1 per cent) voted against, 317 participants (15.9 per cent) voted that the nation needs less political parties and 185 (9.3 per cent) said they do not care.
On the website, 605 respondents (71.5 per cent) voted “yes”, 40 respondents (4.7 per cent) voted “no”, 145 respondents (17.1 per cent) said we need less parties and 56 respondents (6.6 per cents) said they do not care.
Why 74 parties were deregistered
The deregistration of the parties followed their poor performance in the 2019 general elections and court-ordered re-run elections arising from litigations, Mr Yakubu said at a press briefing.
This is largely due to their failure to win at least one political seat in the last general elections.
Most of the parties were not able to poll up 20 thousand votes in the last national elections and lack presence in most parts of the country, he said.
Mr Yakubu said the commission carried out an assessment of political parties to determine their compliance with the requirements for registration and only 18 political parties fulfilled the requirements for existence based on Section 225A of the 1999 Constitution.
Given that the action was in preparation for the coming 2023 general elections, this means the political parties would not be participating in subsequent elections in the country, except the decision is reversed.
INEC had in 2012 deregistered 28 political parties for similar reasons.
The commission, however, registered more parties between that period and the 2019 general elections.
INEC’s power to deregister parties
Section 225 of the Nigerian Constitution was amended to empower the INEC to de-register political parties on grounds of:
a. breach of any of the requirements for registration;
b. failure to win at least twenty-five per cent of votes cast in-
– i. one State of the Federation in a Presidential election; or
– ii. one Local Government of the State in a Governorship election;
c. failure to win at least-
– i. one ward in the Chairmanship election;
– ii. one seat in the National or State House of Assembly election; or
– iii. one seat in the Councillorship election.
The affected parties have since kicked against INEC’s action with a few few of them threatening legal action.
Affected parties like the All Grand Alliance Party (AGAP), Fresh Democratic Party (FDP) and Alliance for Democracy (AD) have cried foul and accused the electoral umpire of not practicing democracy the right way. Other parties like KOWA party and Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP) have said they would seek legal redress.
Mark Adebayo, acting national chairman of KOWA party, explained that his party and 32 others had approached the Federal High Court, Abuja in 2019, to among other things, restrain INEC from deregistering parties pending the determination of the suit.
He said the court upon hearing the Motion for an Interlocutory Injunction adjourned for ruling on February 17.
The court on Monday granted the injunction sought by the parties barring the electoral commission from deregistering them.
Justice Anwuli Chikere said INEC failed to counter the application by the applicants whose rights must be protected.