Deregistered political parties will not be able to field candidates for the 2015 general election unless they seek re-registration, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said on Sunday.
Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court, Abuja in a judgement in July 2013, voided INEC’s decision deregister and ruled that INEC had no powers to de-register any political party in the country without recourse to the 1999 Constitution as amended.
The court nullified a directive the electoral commission issued on December 6, 2012, wherein it de-registered 28 political parties, including Fresh.
Responding to claims by Fresh Democratic Party that INEC had disobeyed court order to recognise it as a political party, the National Commissioner in charge of South-West, Prof. Lai Olurode, said:
“If a deregistered party has not gone to court or the power of INEC has not been destroyed as illegal by a court of law, that party cannot field a candidate come 2015.
“The only exception is if the party has gone back to seek re-registration which is possible under the law.
“There is no law that says you cannot apply as a de-registered party if you think you have complied with the requirements of registration.
“For a party to be recognised as a political party as enshrined in the constitution, that party must be in compliance with the laws, rules and regulations.
“The laws, rules, and regulations must be as laid down in the constitution and in the Electoral Acts,” Olurode said.
He insisted that there was no law that said that no legal provision precluded such political parties from reapplying to be reregistered provided they met the requirements, adding that INEC is a law abiding institution and a law-governed institution covered by the laws of the country.
Olurode also insisted that the commission had the power to register, de-list and de-register a political party and noted that it could also sanction a party for being in violation of certain portions of the law.
He said that if the court ruled against the exercise of the powers given to INEC, the commission had no choice but to obey the rulings of the court with regards to specific provisions of the law.
The commissioner, however, said that for whatever reasons the court could not rule that INEC ought not to have de-registered a party.
Olurode added that this was so especially if the party was able to show that the commission had not complied with certain provisions of the law.
Justice Kolawole had also declared Section 78 (7) (ii) of the Electoral Act as unconstitutional and therefore invalid, saying it was offensive to the provisions of Section 40 and Sections 221-229 of the constitution.
He also ruled that Section 228 of the Constitution vested the National Assembly with the powers to enact the Electoral Act and that the legislature had no power to direct INEC to de-register any political party that failed to win a seat in either the state or National Assembly elections.