The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja on Monday reinstated 32 political parties that were de-registered by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for failing in their performance to meet the requirements expected of a political party, Daily Times gathered.
The Court of Appeal upturned the decision of the Federal High Court Abuja which in June this year held that INEC has the power to deregistered the 32 political parties.
The appellate court said although the electoral body has the power to deregister political parties it did not exercise in respect of 32 political parties exercised that power according to the laid down rules or procedures, therefore, it’s action is void.
Delivering the unanimous judgment written by the President of the Court of Appeal Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, but read by Justice Sòdipe Lokulo the court held that the deregistration was illegal haven failed to follow due process.
The appellate court said that INEC action was not in compliance with section 225(a)of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, as the Commission failed to give the parties the reasons for their deregistration.
The Commission had insisted after deregistering the parties that they have breached the requirements for registration by not winning at least 25 percent of votes cast in one state of the federation during the last presidential election.
But the Court of Appeal held that citizens are entitled to freedom of association as enshrined in Section 40 of the Constitution of federal republic of Nigeria as amended. It added that the right conferred on the citizens cannot be taken away except by due process.
The appellate court noted that it was the process adopted by the electoral body that the political parties are challenging, not the power given to INEC.
Court of Appeal therefore ordered the Commission to relist the 32 political parties as registered political parties in the country.
By Andrew Orolua, Abuja