A senior advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission to wake up to its duties by de-registering political parties that failed to scale some minimum constitutional benchmarks.
In a statement issued on Sunday, Falana, a leading human rights advocate, said the application of the rules will see the number of political parties cut from 91 to fewer than 10.
Contrary to the widespread belief that INEC has no such power, the human rights lawyer said the power was restored to the agency following the 2017 constitutional amendment.
The learned lawyer recalled how some political parties successfully challenged INEC’s power after the amendment of the Electoral Act in 2010. He said the National Assembly bolstered the commission via the constitutional amendment.
“Disturbed by the mockery of multi party democracy in the country through the unprincipled proliferation of political parties the National Assembly amended the Electoral Act 2010 to empower INEC to de-register political parties that failed to win any election.
“Since political parties were registered pursuant to section 222 of the Constitution the suits filed by the affected political parties succeeded as the Federal High Court declared the amendment unconstitutional and set it aside.
“However, the National Assembly took advantage of the 2017 constitutional review to reduce the number of registered political parties in the country. Thus, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (Fourth Alteration, No 9) Act, 2017 enacted on May 4, 2017 has amended section 225 of the 1999 Constitution to empower the Independent National Electoral Commission to de-register political parties,” Falana wrote.
Falana, who deplored the opportunism of some political parties, as demonstrated in the last general election, urged INEC to sanitize the democratic space by applying the rules and enforcing relevant provisions of the Constitution and the electoral act.