The Independent National Electoral Commission has said it would start the process of delisting some of Nigeria’s 91 registered political parties at the conclusion of the supplementary elections and election petitions.
- The INEC Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, told The Punch newspaper in an interview that it could not take action against parties immediately because “there is a possibility that a party that has not done well in any of the elections may win a seat in the National Assembly or state House of Assembly during the supplementary elections.”
What the law says: The 2017 amendment of the constitution gave INEC powers in Section 225 to de-register political parties on the following grounds:
“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.”
In Favor of de-registration: Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) described the “unprincipled proliferation of political parties” as “a mockery of multi-party system.”
- “Going by the results of the elections, the 91 registered political parties may have been reduced to less than 10 that may have scaled the constitutional hurdle,” he said.
Against de-registration: The chairman of the Action Peoples Party (APP), Imo Ugochinyere, offered a counter argument, pointing out that the fact that several state governors have not conducted local government elections mean that INEC cannot deregister parties based on Section 225.
- “INEC will forever be held legally hostage from deregistering any political party because of the inability of some governors to conduct local government elections which is required by the amended Constitution before INEC can decide to wield the big stick against any party that did not win local government or councillorship seat or score some per cent in local government election.”
Bottom Line: 91 political parties (with several others seeking to be registered) is problematic. But the smaller parties are likely to sue INEC if it moves against them, based on the fact that several states have not conducted LGA election.