6th March, 2013
National Conscience Party this morning lost in its bid to stop the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, from deregistering some political parties.
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos dismissed a suit filed by the party and awarded cost of N16,000 against it.
NCP had filed a suit before the court in apprehension that it may be deregistered by INEC as the electoral umpire did some parties late last year.
The party prayed the court to challenge Section 78 of the Electoral Act of 2010 which empowered INEC to deregister political parties that failed to win the elections into the office of the president, governor or a seat in the National Assembly or state assembly.
It contended that the section is inconsistent with Section 40 of the Constitution and Article 10 of Human Right and People’s Right, which guarantee freedom of association. The National Assembly in its reply, cited Sections 4 and 228 (d) of the constitution, saying the sections empowered it to make laws for order and well being of the country and that power include with particular reference to the matter cited in the executive and legislative lists, which include power to enact Section 78 of the Electoral Act.
In its own response, INEC contended that Section 40 of the Constitution contained a proviso that gives power to INEC on the operations of political parties, which is not limited to registration of the political parties alone.
In his judgment, the presiding judge, Justice Okon Abang agreed with the defendants that Section 40 of the Constitution gives INEC the power to regulate the operations of political parties and Article 10 of the African Charter On Human and People’s Right, also supported this.
Justice Abang said further: “Every right should have corresponding obligation for citizens to enjoy the fundamental rights listed in the constitution. There are certain corresponding obligations which must be fulfilled before enjoying such rights. There is nothing wrong in the requirement of Section 78 of the Electoral Act. Political parties should do more than being a platform or group of persons that propagate ideologies, they should sell their manifestoes to the people and win elections. It is when they win elections that they can propagate ideologies to positively influence decisions that will better the lives of the people.”