Former deputy Senate president, Ike Ekweremadu, says the electoral commission, INEC, has the constitutional backing to deregister political parties if proven to have performed poorly at elections.
The commission had deregistered 74 political parties bringing the total number of parties in Nigeria to 18.
The INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, said the action followed their poor performance in the 2019 general elections and court-ordered re-run elections arising from litigations, and the parties’ failure to win at least one political seat in the last general elections.
INEC had, in 2012, under the leadership of Attahiru Jega deregistered 28 political parties for similar reasons.
Mr Ekweremadu, during his appearance on Channels TV Hard Copy on Friday said the electoral umpire can deregister political parties on a number of reasons.
The senator representing Enugu West senatorial district for the fifth consecutive time, explained that a political party must secure at least 25 per cent of votes cast in a state for a presidential election.
He said the same requirements goes for the governorship election, that a party must win 25 per cent of votes in every local government.
“Yes, I understood that they went to court for an induction to restrict INEC from deregistering those political parties. Well, I think they are just buying time.
“The Constitution has been amended, probably they did not have the opportunity of going through what the law says before they went to court, or their lawyers did not advise them properly.
“We amended the constitution and the president signed it into law, empowering INEC to deregister political parties on a number of reasons – one which a party fails to meet a condition upon which you were registered in the first place.
“So if they say a party is to maintain an office in five places and the party could only maintain only one. Then INEC says that since we cannot see the remaining four, you can go.
“But if you decide to run for a presidential election as a political party, and you did not make 25 per cent in one state then you are gone.
“And you decide to run for governorship and also do not make 25 per cent in any local government in that state then INEC can decide to deregister you (party).
“If a party wants to run for a legislative election either the state or National Assembly and a party refuses to win a seat of course they can deregister the party.
“Let us now say the local government elections, and a party fails to win a council seat INEC can also deregister a party the law is clear,” he said.
The affected parties have since kicked against INEC’s action with a few of them threatening legal action.
Affected 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.