…Says Commission Does Not Have Power To Deregister Political Parties
The Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) has debunked a story published in the Punch Newspapers with the headline “LASIEC LISTS LOSERS OF APC LG PRIMARY AS WINNERS” on Wednesday, June 16, 2021, alleging that some winners of the Local Government Chairmen and Councillorship Primaries were surreptitiously replaced in the lists published by the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission.
A statement issued by the Head, Public Affairs Unit of the Commission, Mr. Tope Ojo, described the allegation as false, unfounded and fabricated, hence the need to set the records straight and educate members of the public.
Reiterating that LASIEC is an impartial umpire in the electoral process, Ojo stated that there was a deliberate misrepresentation, misinformation or distortion of facts for political advantage in order to whip up sentiments.
He pointed out that such misleading and untrue accusation may cast doubt on the integrity and impartiality of the electoral process and thereby erode the confidence of the electorate, expressing displeasure at the story.
While maintaining that Punch Newspapers remains a critical stakeholder in the journalism profession, Mr. Ojo noted that a representative of the news medium ought to have sought clarification from the Commission before publishing the story.
He explained that LASIEC, as a State Independent Election Commission (SIEC), does not issue nomination forms to individuals but to the political parties that intend to sponsor candidates for elections.
His words: “The political parties conduct their primary elections and forward the names of their candidates to the Commission for validation. The power to change or substitute candidates lies with the political parties and not with the Electoral body”.
“It is, therefore, necessary to clarify that the content of the publication is false, baseless and misleading because LASIEC does not have the power to either deregister any political party or substitute any party candidate in the list forwarded to it for publication”.
In the same vein, the Public Affairs Director also refuted a social media post attributed to an unknown protester in Lagos, claiming that LASIEC deregistered more than 88 Political Parties from participating in the forthcoming Local Council polls, especially Political Parties belonging to the youths in Lagos State.
Ojo said, “LASIEC does not have the statutory power to deregister Political Parties. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) pursuant to the provision of Section 225A of the 1999 Constitution (as amended by the Fourth Alteration, No. 9) Act, 2017 is the only body empowered to register, de-register and regulate Political Parties and their activities in accordance with the provisions of the law”.
“Recall that in 2020, INEC, in carrying out its statutory responsibility, deregistered 74 “underperforming” Political Parties who failed to meet the criteria provided for by section 225A of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). INEC’s action was subsequently affirmed by the ruling of the Supreme Court. This leaves Nigeria with a total number of 18 registered Political Parties”, he stated.
Ojo noted, therefore, that LASIEC only recognises the 18 registered political parties certified and confirmed by INEC for the issuance of nomination forms for the conduct of the forthcoming Local Council Polls scheduled to hold on July 24, 2021. He added that out of the 18 political parties, 15 of them have indicated their interest in participating in the election process by obtaining nomination forms for their candidates.
“The Commission will continue to build and sustain its integrity as an impartial body recognised for excellence in electoral administration and sustenance of democracy by adopting the internationally accepted best practices and standards of Electoral Processes”, he said.