The Federal High Court Abuja on Friday reaffirmed the powers of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to deregister political parties.
Justice Taiwo Taiwo, delivering judgment in a suit filed by Hope Democratic Party (HDP) against INEC, reaffirmed that the commission was empowered by the 1999 Constitution to deregister political parties that failed to meet provisions of Section 225(a) of the constitution.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that HDP had approached the court challenging the powers of INEC to deregister it as a political party.
The party also prayed the court to declare that INEC had no powers to deregister it as a political party except in accordance with the law.
The party further asked the court for an order for INEC to relist it as a political party in Nigeria.
In his judgment, Justice Taiwo held that HDP fell short of Section 225(a) and also had nothing to show to the court that the action of INEC to deregister it as a political party was unconstitutional.
According to the judge, he who asserts must prove but the plaintiff (HDP) fails to prove to the court that INEC acted unlawfully by deregistering it as a political party.
The court held that “the case of the plaintiff is weak and cannot be granted the reliefs sought. The law is that the plaintiff succeeds on the merit of his case and not that the defence is weak.
“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 court is not a father Christmas to grant reliefs that have not been sought.
“I find that the deregistering of HDP as a political party was lawfully done and it has terminated the legal existence of HDP as a political party.” the judge said.
HDP has however vowed to appeal the judgment.
NAN also recalls that on May 28, Justice Taiwo had in another judgment delivered in the suit filed by the National Unity Party (NUP) against INEC, affirmed the electoral umpire’s powers to deregister political parties.
NUP was one of the 74 parties deregistered by the INEC in February.
The court affirmed that the constitutional powers of the commission and the reasons given by the commission for deregistering political parties were valid, in conformity with the law and sacrosanct.
The court further held that INEC’s powers could not be affected by the fact of anticipated local government elections by some states which dates were not fixed, certain or even ascertainable.