Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court has again reaffirmed the powers of the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) to deregister political parties.
The court in it’s judgment in a suit filed by Hope Democratic Party against the electoral umpire challenging the powers of INEC to deregister it as a political party said INEC is empowered by the constitution to deregister parties that failed to meet provisions of Section 225(a).
HDP had approached the court asking it to declare that INEC cannot deregister it as a political party except in accordance with the law.
The party also prayed the court for an order for INEC to relist it as a political party in Nigeria.
In his judgment, Justice Taiwo said that HDP fell short of Section 225(a) and also had nothing to show the court that the action of INEC to deregister it as a political party was unlawful.
According to the court, he who asserts must prove but the plaintiff has not been able to prove to the court that INEC acted unconstitutionally by deregistering it as a political party.
The court held that, ‘the case of the plaintiff is weak so it cannot be granted the reliefs sought.
It said the plaintiff has the onus to prove its case but has failed to show to the court that it met the requirements of Section 225(a).
” The plaintiff ought to give particulars of malice when it alleged that it was deregistered out of malice.
“The defendant has the powers to deregister political and the defendant was right to have deregistered the plaintiff which failed to meet the requirements of a political party.
Last week, Justice Taiwo, had delivered a landmark judgment in a suit filed by the National Unity Party (NUP), one of the 74 parties deregistered by INEC in February.
Taiwo, J, had affirmed that the constitutional power of the electoral commission and the reasons given by the Commission for the deregisteration of parties were valid, in conformity with the law and sacrosanct.
He said these could not be affected by the fact of anticipated Local government elections by some states which dates were not fixed, certain or even ascertainable.
The court, therefore, held that the deregistration of National Unity Party as a political party in Nigeria was lawfully done in exercise of vested constitutional powers of the INEC.
He said this was in accordance with Section 225A of the 1999 Constitution.
The judgment conclusively terminated the legal existence of the Party and also all its other rights and obligations.
The Court also held that the Party failed to show that the exercise of its powers to deregister the party was at variance with the law and also ultra vires its powers.
Hence the court decided that the Plaintiff failed to prove its case and the issues could not be determined in its favour, and the reliefs it sought could not be granted.