The immediate past Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, has countered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Commissioner in charge of Nasarawa, Kogi and Kwara states, Muhammed Haruna, who said the electoral body lacked power to de-register political parties without further constitution amendments.
In a statement by his media aide, Uche Anichukwu, in Abuja yesterday, Ekweremadu said that INEC had constitutional powers to deal with proliferation of political parties.
He said that the constitution amendments carried out by the Eighth National Assembly had substantially addressed the problem of proliferation of political parties in Nigeria.
Ekweremadu, who also chaired the Senate Committee on Constitution Review for 12 consecutive years, expressed surprise at the statement credited to the INEC commissioner, adding that the efforts to check the mushrooming of political parties started in the Sixth National Assembly in 2010 by the stoppage of subventions to political parties.
The former Deputy Senate President said all INEC needed to do was to look at the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (Fourth Alteration, No. 9) Act published in Official Gazette No. 77 Vol. 105 to be well guided.
He said: “INEC has a germane point because the size of our political parties constitute logistical challenge to the election management body. More electorate now find it difficult to identify the logos of their preferred political parties.”
“The ballots and result sheets are getting too long and unwieldy and it also has cost and time implications on elections.
“However, I believe INEC’s concern has already been substantially addressed by the 1999 Constitution as amended by the Eighth National Assembly and assented by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“We inserted Section 225a, which provides that the INEC shall have power to de-register political parties for breach of any of the requirements for registration and failure to win at least 25 per cent of votes cast in one state of the federation in a presidential election or 25 per cent of votes cast in at least one local council in a governorship election.
“It further empowers INEC to de-register any party that fails to win at least one ward in the chairmanship election or one seat in the National Assembly or state House of Assembly election or one seat in the councillorship election.
“What it means is that a political party may continue to exist. But once it appears on the ballot paper, it becomes compulsory for it to meet certain benchmarks to continue to exist.”