Nigeria’s Court of Appeal, Abuja Division on Monday, reversed the de-registration of 74 political parties by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The appellate court, in a judgement yesterday, set aside the judgement of Federal High Court that upheld INEC’s actions saying the de-registration exercise was illegal for not following due process.
The court subsequently ordered that the 74 deregistered parties should be relisted as registered political parties in Nigeria on the ground that the process that led to their deregistration by the electoral umpire did not follow due process. The appellate court held that INEC’S actions were not in compliance with Section 225 (a) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended and the Commission did not give reasons for the deregistration of the political parties.
INEC had said that the deregistered parties breached the requirements for registration as they failed to win at least 25 per cent of votes cast in one state of the federation during the presidential election.
While making reference to Section 40 of the constitution, the appellate court held that citizens are entitled to freedom of association and as such, the right conferred on a party cannot be taken except by due process. The Court further held that the parties are challenging the process of their deregistration and not the Act.
The court, therefore, ordered that the appellants be listed as registered political parties in the country. The Advance Congress of Democrats and the Progressive Peoples Alliance were among the 74 Political parties that INEC deregistered on 6th February 2020.