A Lagos Federal High Court yesterday ruled that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is constitutionally empowered to deregister any political party for failure to win elections into the office of the president, governor, state or National Assembly.
Trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, held in his verdict on a suit filed by the National Conscience Party (NCP) challenging the power of INEC to deregister political parties.
But the NCP has vowed to challenge the verdict at the appellate court.
He dismissed the suit on the ground that it lacked merit and also awarded N15,000 damages against the NCP.
He also discharged an interlocutory injunction his court made on September 13, 2012 restraining INEC from deregistering INEC pending the determination of the suit.
Abang said that there was a proviso in Section 40 of the Constitution that specifically empowers INEC to regulate political parties.
He held that the National Assembly is also empowered to make laws including the one given to INEC in the Electoral Act to deregister any political party that fail to win elections.
He said Article 10 of African Charter on Human and People’s right relied upon by NCP, also has a proviso that the necessary legal requirements must be met for the rights to be enjoyed.
Members of the NCP staged a peaceful protest in court against the verdict and vowed not to relent in the bid to protect the party formed by the late rights activist Gani Fawehinmi.