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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) de-registration of 22 political parties has been upheld by the Supreme Court on Friday 

Following their poor performance in the previous elections, the electoral body decided to scrap 74 parties in 2020.

Justice Ejembi Eko voided and set aside the appellate Court’s judgement that had nullified the de-registration in an appeal filed by INEC against the judgement of the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division.

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Justice Eko ruled that the Appeal Court raised the issue of a lack of fair hearing in favour of the 22 scrapped parties on its own (suo motu) and reached a decision without hearing from the other parties in the case.

“This INEC appeal is meritorious and is hereby granted.” The decision of the lower court is reversed,” Justice Eko said, adding that the Court of Appeal left the issue of fair hearing out of the consideration of the political parties’ notice of appeal, but refused to do what was required to be fair to others in the case.

The Supreme Court ruled that the Court of Appeal erred in law when it raised the issue of fair hearing in favour of the political parties suo motu and refused to allow other respondents to address it in order to reach a just conclusion.

According to Justice Eko, the Court of Appeal’s decision to issue a judgement in such a situation violated the pillar of the same fair hearing, and as a result, its findings and conclusions are invalid.

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“It is not one of a court’s basic functions to raise a fundamental issue suo motu and reach a conclusion without hearing from the parties involved.” Such conduct violates the fundamental tenet of a fair trial, according to Justice Eko.

INEC de-registered 74 political parties on February 6, 2020, after they failed to win any political office in the previous general election.

The Advanced Congress of Democrats (ACD) and 21 other political parties filed a lawsuit in Abuja’s Federal High Court to challenge INEC’s deregistration.

The suit was dismissed by the Federal High Court on June 11, 2020, on the grounds that INEC had the authority to de-register parties that did not win elections.

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The court decided that Sections 225(a), (b), and (c) of the Constitution could be read together to imply that INEC has the authority to deregister political parties.

Although INEC has the authority to de-register parties, the Court of Appeal ruled in August 2020 that it was improper for ACD and 21 other parties to be de-registered while their case was pending in court.

In an appeal marked SC/485/2020, INEC challenged the Court of Appeal’s decision in the Supreme Court.

Thanks for reading Supreme Court Upholds INEC’s De-Registration Of 22 Political Parties. Also Read : NIMASA Salary Structure: How Much Does Nimasa Pay Its Staff

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