In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeal’s ruling that the Youth Party’s de-registration was unlawful and void.
A unanimous Supreme Court ruled against an Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) appeal.
It ruled that the Youth Party meets the requirements for formal recognition and participation in the 2023 elections.
In a majority opinion written by Uwani Musa Abba Aji, the justices affirmed Justice Inyang Ekwo’s ruling from the Federal High Court in Abuja.
The claimed de-registration of the party was illegal and void by Justice Ekwo.
Chief Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN), Chukwudi Adiukwu, and Wale Irokosu, representing the Youth Party, filed an appeal with the Supreme Court, asking that the lower court’s ruling be upheld.
As a result of INEC’s repeated violations of the law and court orders, the party was unable to register on time.
Despite winning a case against INEC on October 18, 2017 (FHC/ABJ/CS/221/2017), Chukwudi Adiukwu and others v. INEC, INEC failed to register the party.
While the parties were before the Federal High Court, the electoral umpire unlawfully de-registered Youth Party.
Despite the verdict not being delayed or overturned, INEC has not registered the party on its website or allowed it to run candidates in any elections.
“The defendant is not above the law,” Justice Ekwo had said. “No person or parties to an action is allowed to resort to self-help when an action is pending in court.”
The defendant’s ability to de-register a political party under Section 225A (b) & (c) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) was found to be insufficient to justify the defendant’s conduct while the issue was ongoing in the lower court, according to the court.
“The defendant must understand that the Constitution is not an author of confusion,” the court ruled.
“I condemn the action of the defendant as a wrong exercise of might.
“Therefore, the de-registration of the plaintiff during the pendency of this action by the defendant is illegal, null and void, and liable to be set aside.
“Consequently, I hereby make an order setting aside the de-registration of the plaintiff.”
The party claimed that it suffered losses since its registration was late.
It read, “INEC’s abuse of power and disregard for the rule of law has illegally frustrated several of our members from legitimately pursuing their aspirations.
“It has also cost the party an immeasurable amount of resources over the last few years. Thankfully, this illegality has ended.
“The decision of the Supreme Court also put paid to the orchestrated and incorrect media interpretation of the recent Supreme Court case involving NUP and INEC that it had effectively de-registered Youth Party and other parties.
“It is pertinent to state that Youth Party was not a party to the case and the facts of the case were different from its case.
“Essentially, it cannot serve as a judicial precedent against Youth Party as upheld by the Court of Appeal today.
“Once again, we thank the Nigerian judiciary for giving us hope that the rule of law is still sacrosanct and the judiciary is the hope of our democracy.”
In a statement, the party urged INEC to enable Tari Taylaur, the party’s candidate for the Eti Osa 1 House of Assembly Seat in Lagos State, and Mrs Victoria Oluchi Farley-Bradford, its gubernatorial candidate in Abia State, to run unfettered in the upcoming 2023 elections.