Abuja – INEC chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, said in Abuja on Sunday that the Commission would continue to de-register political parties that failed to comply with the provisions of the Electoral Act.
Jega, who made the declaration at a forum, said that the Commission was empowered by law to de-register political parties.
“The Constitution and the Electoral Act gave INEC the power to de-register political parties and we have commenced that process and it is ongoing.
“So, until there is a change in the legislation, obviously, any political party that does not comply with the provisions of the Electoral Act, we are obligated to de-register them.
“So, it is an ongoing process. It’s a continuous process and we will do it.
“I think there are very useful models of registration of political parties in other countries that we can learn from.’’
Jega said the Commission was determined to review the process of registering political parties to ensure that they met certain conditions before they could field candidates for elective positions.
According to him, INEC has already proposed some recommendations for constitutional amendment to vary the process of registration, while maintaining multiparty system of democracy.
He said: “`It is good to have a multiparty system and to allow as many parties as possible to register, but we really need to sanitise the process of registering political parties.
“This will ensure that only the most deserving in terms of their programmes, their constitution, and their physical presence in states and in localities that are registered.
“But being a registered political party does not necessarily mean that you must field candidates in all elections.
“It may be necessary for some parties to bid their time until they are ripe enough to field candidates at elections.
“So, we think that’s the way to go rather than to limit the number of registered parties to just a few.’’
Jega added that there were not less than three fresh applications for registration of new political parties.
He said INEC had made good its promise to prosecute electoral offenders, but admitted that it lacked the capacity to prosecute the plethora of electoral offenders, hence its call for the establishment of special courts to handle election offences.
He explained that the special courts would empower a separate body to handle prosecution of electoral offences while INEC focused on the conduct and management of elections.
He expressed regret at the slow process of dispensation of justice in the country leading to large number of cases still pending before the various courts.
“The fact of the matter is that INEC does not have the capacity to prosecute all offenders successfully because of the magnitude of offences.
“There are still many cases which are still pending in the courts, but a successful prosecution is predicated on INEC prosecution.
“Then the police must do the investigation and provide the necessary evidence, and the courts should hasten the process of prosecution.’’
The INEC boss said it was heart-warming that for the first time since elections began in Nigeria, the current INEC had been the only electoral body to have prosecuted more than 200 electoral offenders in spite of the “tremendous delays on all sides.
“So it is better that we have a separate agency that can be handling the prosecution of electoral offenders.’’ (NAN)
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