A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Yusuf Ali, has said the Independent National Electoral Commission had the right to deregister political parties.

But another SAN, Mr Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, described the deregistration of the 74 political parties as an illegality.

INEC, on Thursday, deregistered 74 political parties on the grounds that they failed to meet requirements for party registration.

The Chairman of INEC, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, who released names of the deregistered political parties at a press conference in Abuja, also said 18 parties made the list of registered parties in the country.

Among the deregistered parties are the National Conscience Party, which was established by the late human rights lawyer, Gani Fawehinmi, SAN, Kowa Party, and the United Peoples Party.

They also include Pastor Chris Okotie’s Fresh Democratic Party; Peoples Trust, whose presidential candidate was Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim; the Advanced Allied Party, the All Blending Party, the Advanced Congress of Democrats, the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, the Alliance for Democracy, the All Grassroots Alliance, the All Grand Alliance Party, the Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party, the Alliance For New Nigeria, the Alliance National Party, the Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party, the African Peoples Alliance, the Advanced Peoples Democratic Alliance, the Alternative Party of Nigeria and the Alliance of Social Democrats.

Ali said, “INEC has the power because there are thresholds set for political parties after general elections, which they must meet to remain as political parties. Once you do not meet the thresholds, your party is gone.

“We have too many parties. I see it as an abuse of democratic space to have over 90 political parties on the ballot paper, when we know that functionally, there are about three viable parties in the country. None of the political parties is based on ideology.”

Adegboruwa said INEC could not rely on the Electoral Act to deregister any political party.

He told The newsmen, “I believe that there is no power in the Independent National Electoral Commission to deregister parties, once registered. Under the freedom of association, in the constitution, once that registration has been done, it is not conditional upon winning or losing election. That Section 40 of the Constitution has been tested by (the late) Chief Gani Fewehinmi up to the Supreme Court, when the party of Balarabe Musa was deregistered by INEC.
But the Buhari Media Organisation supported INEC’s action, saying it would sanitise the electoral process.

The BMO chairman, Niyi Akinsiju, said the reduction of a large number of political parties to 18 had both cost and management implications for INEC.