The Independent National Electoral Commission has defended its decision to deregister the 22 political parties which the Court of Appeal in Abuja recently ordered it to relist.
A five-man panel led by the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Dongban-Mensem, had in its unanimous judgment delivered on August 10, 2020 reversed the deregistration of the parties the grounds that the act was carried out in breach of the provision of section 225(a) of the Nigerian Constitution.
It also ruled that INEC’s action of deregistering the political parties while their suit seeking to stop the same act was still pending at the Federal High Court in Abuja constituted an affront on the authority of the court.
Asked to respond to the remarks of the court on Tuesday, INEC, through the Chief Press Secretary to the commission’s chairman, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, said there was no court order stopping it from deregistering the parties as of the time it was done in February 2020.
He said it was only the Action Peoples Party obtained a restraining order which was honoured by INEC.
He said, “In February when the commission deregistered 74 political parties, there was only one restraining order against INEC in favour of the Action Peoples Party which had filed a suit to stop the Commission from deregistering it.
“That was why the APP was exempted from the deregistration process.
“To be sure, I am not aware of any other restraining order against the commission as of that time (February 2020).”
Oyekannmi also cited an earlier July 29, 2020 judgment of the Court of Appeal in Abuja which had affirmed the power of INEC to deregister political parties that failed to meet the conditions spelt out in section 225(a) of the Nigerian Constitution.
He said with the two judgments of the Court of Appeal with one validating the deregistration of the political parties and the August 10, 2020 by the same court, the commission’s remaining option was to appeal to the Supreme Court and await its final decision.