A Federal High Court, Abuja, has voided the controversial de-registration of three political parties by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The reinstated parties are the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), the Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) and the Better Nigeria Progressive Party (BNPP).
Delivering judgment on the suit on Thursday, Justice Adeyinka Ademola held that the Attahiru Jega-led INEC, which carried out the de-registration in December 2012, lacked the power to do so.
According to Justice Ademola, the electoral umpire could not de-register the three political parties except in accordance with the provisions of the constitution and not any other law.
The three political parties had brought the suit against INEC and the Attorney- General of the Federation challenging the action.
INEC had relied on Section 78(7)(ii) of the Electoral Act, 2010 as amended to de-register the parties.
However, the judge in his ruling, argued that “Section 78(7)(ii) of the Electoral Act, 2010 as amended is unconstitutional, invalid, null and void to the extent of its inconsistency with Sections 1(3), 40 and Sections 221-229 of the constitution.’’
“The de-registration of the parties by INEC on the basis of Section 78(7)(i) of the Electoral Act 2010 without fair hearing amounted to gross violation of Sections 36 and 40 and Sections 221 and 222 of the constitution”, Ademola declared.
The verdict read in parts: “The action is illegal, unconstitutional and null and void. INEC is hereby ordered to restore the plaintiffs as political parties in Nigeria and to continue to recognise and deal with them as political parties in the country”.
By Olisemeka Obeche