The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said it would only recognise and deal with 18 political parties for the November 6 governorship election in Anambra State, pending the Supreme Court judgment regarding its powers to deregister parties.
The Commission said the clarification became necessary following various letters submitted to it recently by some of the deregistered parties signifying the intention to conduct primaries with a view to submitting names and particulars of candidates for the Anambra poll.
Recall that the electoral body had on February 6, last year, de-registered 74 political parties for failing to win any political office in the last general election.
Dissatisfied by the ruling, the Advanced Congress of Democrats (ACD) and 22 other parties approached the court to challenge their de-registration by INEC.
The Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, had overturned a ruling by a lower court affirming the de-registration of the parties by INEC, saying it had failed to give reasons to the parties on why they could no longer exist.
In a swift reaction, the Commission, in a statement, disclosed that it would approach the apex court on the matter, noting that judgment of the Court of Appeal delivered in favour of the 22 deregistered political parties is in conflict with the judgment delivered by the same court in the case of National Unity Party (NUP) vs. INEC, wherein the court affirmed its powers to deregister NUP and other political parties.
The NUP then appealed against the said judgment to the Supreme Court and the case is presently pending.
The appeal filed by the Commission against the judgment of the Court of Appeal relating to the 22 deregistered parties is also pending at the apex court.
INEC Commissioner, Mr. Festus Okoye, in a statement yesterday in Abuja, advised the 74 deregistered parties to await the judgment of the apex court on appeals relating to the powers of the electoral body to deregister parties.
He added that the Commission was always ready to obey court orders and would abide by any judgment delivered by the apex court, noting: “The Commission will continue to recognise and deal with only the 18 registered political parties, pending the final resolution and determination of the various appeals filed and pending before the Supreme Court.
“Consequently, INEC will not monitor any purported primaries by any of the deregistered political parties and will not issue access code to or accept the list and particulars of candidates emanating from such primaries.”
Okoye urged the participating political parties to strictly adhere to the provisions of their constitutions on internal party administration and nomination of candidates for elections.
This, he stated, became necessary in view of the recent spate of complaints regarding the dissolution of the executives of state branches, even where their tenures have not expired, as well as the rash of conflicting court orders with respect to party primaries and candidature long after elections have been conducted by the commission.
He further appealed to stakeholders to support its efforts to strengthen the electoral process, noting: “These efforts presently include, but are not limited to, the initiative to expand access of voters to polling units; resumption of the continuous voter’s registration; amendment of the electoral legal framework; preparations for the conduct of the Anambra, Ekiti and Osun governorship elections and some by-elections; deepening of the use of technology in the electoral process, as well as early preparations for the 2023 general election.”