INEC threatens to deregister erring political parties

The Independent National Electoral Commission on Friday threatened to deregister erring political parties.

The commission’s chairman, Prof. Yakubu Mahmood, who spoke while presenting certificates to the recently registered five political parties, said that the commission would not hesitate to sanction any political party that violates its laws.

The new parties which got their registration certificates were the Action Democratic Party, All Democratic People’s Movement, Advanced People’s Democratic Alliance, New Generation Party of Nigeria and the Young Progressive Party.

With this, the number of political parties in Nigeria now stands at 45.

Mahmood told the leadership of the new political parties that the commission would “vigorously” apply the law guiding the parties where necessary.

He said, “The commission will continue to strictly monitor the activities of all political parties and will not hesitate to apply sanctions against any violation of the law governing the terms and conditions of your registration.

“I wish to remind all political parties that the law also provides for de-registration of parties. We shall vigorously apply this aspect of the law as the need arises.

“As we approach some of the outstanding by-elections, the three governorship elections in Anambra, Ekiti and Osun states, and ultimately the 2019 general elections, the commission will pay special attention to the conduct of political parties as well as their candidates and supporters.

“Hate speech and other violations of the Electoral Act attract appropriate sanctions under the law. I wish to assure all political parties that we shall continue to consult you as major partners in the electoral process.

“We will continue to work with the Inter-Party Advisory Council in our shared commitment to improving our electoral process.”

He told the leadership of the newly registered political parties not to see the registration of their political parties as an end in itself.

Rather, he said that the registration should be an opportunity to exercise the critical role of political parties in the best interest of the country’s growing democracy.

The INEC boss said, “At the same time, I wish to remind you that from today, you are no longer political associations but registered political parties. As you are aware, political parties are at the heart of our democracy.

“Under the constitution, no Nigerian can contest an election conducted by lNEC unless he/she is sponsored by a political party. Similarly, under the constitution, you are registered to operate as national political parties.

“As such, you should remain committed to the politics of principles and development of the entire nation as articulated in your party’s constitution and manifesto, which you submitted along with your application for registration.

“You must eschew the politics of division, bitterness, mud-slinging and hatred. You must also be inclusive in all your activities by giving opportunity to all citizens, especially disadvantaged groups such as women, youths and persons with disabilities.

“To this end, I wish to assure you of the commission’s continued cooperation in promoting the growth of all political parties in Nigeria.”

He said both old and new political parties were the same before the law.

Speaking on the fate of other applications pending before the commission for registration as political parties, the INEC boss revealed that as of last week, the commission had received 95 applications, out of which he said five had fulfilled the requirements for registration.

He said that three other associations voluntarily withdrew their applications, bringing the total to 87 applications. Since then, he said that the commission had received six more applications.

He said, “The commission is currently processing 103 applications. Out of this number, six associations are currently undergoing the initial assessment of their logos, names, acronyms and other legal requirements for registration.

“Also, 33 associations have passed the initial assessment and advised to proceed with the necessary documentation in support of their applications; 10 associations have passed the initial assessment, submitted the necessary documentation and the commission is currently verifying their submissions; finally, 54 associations have failed the initial assessment due mainly to the similarity of their proposed names or logos with existing political parties or associations.

“I want to assure you that the commission will continue to give expeditious consideration to all applications in line with the requirements of the law.”

Also speaking at the occasion, the Chairman of Inter-Party Advisory Council, Mr. Mohammed Nalado, called on the commission to stop the registration of more political parties.

He said registration of more political parties was capable of confusing the electorate.

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