Commission fixes dates for Edo, Ondo gov elections
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has deregistered 74 out of the 92 political parties in the country. The Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who made the announcement at a press conference yesterday in Abuja, said the parties failed to meet the constitutional requirements that determine their continuous existence.
With the development, according to Yakubu, Nigeria now has 18 political parties. He said that 16 political parties, after assessing their outing in the 2019 general elections, fulfilled the requirements for existence based on section 225A of the 1999 Constitution (as amended)
They are Accord Party, Action Alliance, African Action Congress, African Democratic Congress, All Progressives Congress, All Progressives Grand Alliance and Allied Peoples Movement. Others are New Nigeria Peoples Party, National Rescue Movement, Peoples Democratic Party, Peoples Redemption Party, Social Democratic Party, Young Progressives Party, and Zenith Labour Party.
According to INEC, the 75 parties didn’t satisfy the requirement but one, the Action Peoples Party (APP), filed a suit in court and obtained an order restraining the commission from deregistering it. Yakubu said a new party, Boot Party (BP) which was registered by court order after the 2019 general elections would continue to exist.
He stated: “Prior to the Fourth Alteration, the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) had provided for the deregistration of political parties. Based on this provision, the commission, between 2011 and 2013, deregistered 39 political parties. However, several of the parties challenged the power of INEC to deregister them, particularly on the ground that the Electoral Act is inferior to the constitution and that deregistration infringed their fundamental rights under the same constitution.
“Subsequently, the courts ordered the commission to reinstate the parties. It was for this reason that the National Assembly amended the constitution to empower the commission to deregister political parties on the following grounds:
“• Breach of any of the requirements for registration as a political party.
“• Failure to win at least 25 per cent of the votes cast in one state of the federation in a presidential election or 25 percent of the votes cast in one local government area of a state in a governorship election.
“• Failure to win at least one ward in a chairmanship election, one seat in the national or state assembly election or one seat in a councillorship election.
“In order to implement the provision of the Fourth Alteration to the Constitution, the commission carried out an assessment of political parties to determine compliance with the requirements for their registration.
“Similarly, following the conclusion of the 2019 general election, including court-ordered re-run elections arising from litigations, the commission was able to determine the performance of political parties in the elections.
“In addition, they were also assessed on the basis of their performance in the area council elections in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) which coincided with the 2019 general election.
It should be noted that the FCT is the only part of the country where INEC is empowered by the constitution to conduct local government elections.” Yakubu said the commission had fixed September 19 and October 10, 2020 for the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states.
“The tenure of the governors of Edo and Ondo states will end on 12th November 2020 and 24th February 2021. Pursuant to the provisions of Section 178 (2) of the 1999 Constitution and Section 25(8) of the Electoral Act 2010, elections cannot hold earlier than 150 days and not later than 30 days before the expiration of the term of office of an incumbent governor.
“Accordingly, the commission has fixed Saturday 19th September 2020 as the date for the governorship election in Edo State and Saturday 10th October 2020 for Ondo State. Detailed timetable and schedule of activities for the two elections will be published on our website and social media platforms shortly,” the INEC boss said.
But faulting INEC’s decision as being too hasty, the National Chairman of National Conscience Party (NCP), Dr. Yunusa Tanko said it came as a rude shock that the same commission, which deregistered 74 parties was already preparing to register 100 political parties.
According to him, “INEC took its decision without waiting for a court order on the case, considering the fact that about 50 political parties are already in court awaiting the court’s decision on February 18 2020.
“That there is only one political party that’s already in court is not true. We have already been in court and we accepted that they should have waited and listened to the body that’s already in court but they did not do so, whether for some personal reasons or any other reasons or they were motivated by any other person outside INEC. “
Factional National Publicity Secretary of the UPN, Felix Felix Oboagwina, said the deregistration came to the party as a rude shock because the late Dr. Fredrick Fasehun and others joined forces to resuscitate the party, which was originally founded by the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo with the intention to intervene in the challenges confronting the country. He described INEC’s action as against the freedom of association as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution.
But the ruling APC endorsed the INEC’s decision. Reacting to the development, the APC’s Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, canvassed a two-party system for the country.He argued that the decision by the electoral umpire would pave the way for serious- minded political parties to play active roles in the political process of the country.
“This is a welcome development. We need serious-minded people to play partisan politics not political jobbers who just want the names of the parties on the ballot papers only to turn around to negotiate for payment of monies for one reason or the other. Politics remains a serious business and the fewer the serious parties in the country, the better for our democracy.”