Some Lawyers in Lagos on Sunday criticised the de-registration of 28 political parties by INEC and described it as a disregard to the constitution.
INEC had on 6 December announced the de-registration of 28 political parties out of the 56 registered political parties in the country.
A Lagos-based lawyer and human rights activist, Mr Spurgeon Ataene, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the electoral body’s action was contrary to the provisions of Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution as amended, “which guarantees every citizen of Nigeria, a right to peaceful assembly and association.”
He said: “The right and freedom to assembly and association as guaranteed by the constitution, allows every Nigerian citizen to associate, and this association include the establishment and membership of political parties in the country.’
He said the action was an infringement on constitutional right of the people.
Another lawyer, Mr Anthony Makolo, said every politician in the country has a right to contest any political position under any platform “because he or she has the freedom to associate.”
Makolo said whether a political party emerged as winner for any political position in Nigeria or not, it should have no bearing with the functions of INEC, which has the primary duty to conduct elections in the country.
“I think these political parties have an undiluted right to come under whatever platform they deem fit in engaging in political activities in the country.
“To now say they are de-registered for whatever reason, is to my mind, an over stretching of INEC’s powers and functions,” he said, adding that the major concern of INEC should be to ensure the conduct of free and fair election, and not to measure successes of political parties in the country.
Mr Ogedi Ogu, also a lawyer, said although the Electoral Act gave wide powers to the commission in handling political parties in the country, the Act was still subject to the constitution which served as the norm in Nigeria.
Ogu said it was always better to allow maximum number of political parties in a country to operate, to make room for competition to political positions.
He added that where there were restrictions on the number of parties, it would create monopolistic situations where leadership would be reserved for a certain political class.
He described the action of the commission as a contravention of the constitution and stressed that individuals have a right to freedom of association.