By Christiana Ekpa
The House of Representatives yesterday rejected the debate on the motion seeking to deregister existing political parties that fail to win at least one seat in the National or State House of Assembly during the 2019 General Elections.
The decision of the House followed the debate on a motion titled: “Call on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to implement Section 78 (7ii) of the Electoral Act, 2010” sponsored by Hon. Francis Uduyok.
Leading the debate on the motion, Hon. Francis Charles Uduyok observed that Independent National Electoral Commission was empowered by Section 78 sub-section (7ii) of the Electoral Act, 2010 to de-register political parties.
He said “the aforementioned sub-section clearly states that failure of any political party to win at least one seat in the National Assembly or a State House of Assembly will result in de-registration of the said political party.
“The House is concerned that since the commencement of the Act, Section 78 (7ii) has not been fully implemented given the rising number of Political Parties in Nigeria with neither a seat in either a State House of Assembly or the National Assembly.
“The House is cognizant that if Section 78 (7ii) of the Electoral Act is fully implemented, it would help to regulate numbers of political parties, reduce election costs, as well as reduce void votes caused by the inability of voters to comprehend the long list of political parties on the ballot papers.
He stressed the need for the Committee on Electoral Matters to investigate in order to ascertain the circumstances surrounding the non-implementation of Section 78 (7ii) of the Electoral Act, 2010 by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
However, the Majority Chief Whip, Hon. Mohammed Monguno noted that the Supreme Court had in the case of National Conscience Party ruled that INEC lacks the constitutional power to deregister any political parties.
In a swift reaction, Hon. Tobi Okechukwu who urged the presiding officer to reconsider his position, explained that the intent of the motion was ascertain whether the Commission has the power to de-register the political parties or otherwise.
He further observed that such legislative function does not in any way implies that the House is altering the extant laws.
However, in his ruling Deputy Speaker, Hon. Ahmed Wase who presided over the plenary session declared that the motion should be stepped down.