We will appeal judgement relisting 22 political parties – INEC

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has promised to appeal a Court of Appeal judgement ordering the commission to enlist 22 political parties that were deregistered.

A four-member panel led by Monica Dongban-Mensem, the appeal court president, on Monday, held that INEC had failed to give reasons to the parties on why they could no longer exist.

The appellate court unanimously overturned the ruling of the Federal High Court in Abuja, in favour of INEC, dismissing the suit filed by the aggrieved parties on the grounds that they failed to prove their case.

Some political parties had jointly filed a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/444/2019, to challenge INEC’s decision to de-register 74 parties out of the 91 registered parties that participated in the 2019 general elections.

The parties also asked the court to determine whether INEC has the constitutional power to deregister them.

INEC had in February de-registered 74 parties out of the 91 registered parties that participated in the 2019 general elections.

The commission said its decision followed a comparative review and court-ordered re-run elections arising from litigations on political parties in the last elections. And for “failing to meet the criteria provided by section 225(a) of the 1999 constitution (as amended)”.

In reaction to the appeal court order, INEC in a statement signed by its spokesperson, Festus Okoye, said it would approach the Supreme Court.

INEC said it is faced with two conflicting judgements from the de-registration of the parties: one affirming the powers of the commission to deregister political parties and the other setting aside the deregistration of ACD & 22 others.

“We recall that on July 29, 2020, the Court Appeal, Abuja Judicial Division in an appeal filed by the National Unity Party (NUP) affirmed the power of the Commission (INEC) to deregister political parties that fail to meet the constitutional threshold in section 225A. Dissatisfied with the judgment the National Unity Party lodged an appeal which is presently pending before the Supreme Court.

“Faced with two conflicting judgements from the same court, the commission is not in a position to pick and choose which one of them to obey.

“Consequently, the commission will approach the Supreme Court for a final resolution of the issues raised” in the conflicting judgements.”

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