The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC has confirmed the rejection of no fewer than 124 political groups from joining the list of parties already on the country’s ballot paper.
The electoral body had earlier declared in its 2023 General Elections Project Plan that only 18 political parties would participate in next year’s elections.
However, some groups have applied to the commission seeking licenses to establish various parties to appear on the next election’s ballot paper.
INEC has, however, maintained its verdict that l only 18 parties that survived the commission’s last deregistration in 2020 will participate in the forthcoming elections.
Naija News understands the hopeful political associations numbering about a hundred and one (101) had submitted their applications in December 2021, for registration.
The Deputy Director, SERVICOM at INEC, Olayide Okuonghae, in his response to a Freedom of Information request sent by Sunday PUNCH, said the 101 associations applied between 2019 and December 14, 2021.
His response read in part, “About your letter dated December 9, 2021, the commission wishes to inform you that from 2019 to December 14, 2021, a total of 101 political associations forwarded their letters of intent to be registered as political parties.”
The Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, Rotimi Oyekanmi confirmed the development to journalists last December but noted that the commission could not reveal the names of the associations because they had not been approved as political parties.
Naija News, however, learnt from an emerging report on Sunday morning that 23 more political associations applied for registration between December 14, 2021, and March 25, 2022.
An INEC interim report as sighted by the PUNCH showed that as of March 25, 2022, no fewer than 124 applications were received by the commission. However, none of the associations has been registered.
The report read in part, “As of March 2022, the commission had on record a total of 124 letters of intent from various political associations seeking to apply for registration as political parties. The status of the associations summarises that 97 associations out of 116 have been advised that their proposed names, acronyms or logos were not suitable or available for registration.
“Eleven of the associations that received letters of non-suitability of their proposed names/acronyms/logos resubmitted letters of intent with amended names/acronyms/logos. Sixteen associations submitted fresh letters of intent.”
Asked whether INEC would still register new political parties before the 2023 elections, Oyekanmi reportedly said on Friday that the final decision on whether or not to register a new political party before the elections rested exclusively with the commission, a system he said he would not pre-empt.
He said, “The submission of an application by an association or group for registration as a political party is the starting point of an elaborate and rigorous process. It, therefore, takes time and a lot of effort from when an application is submitted to the day the certificate of registration is given.
“Section 75 of the Electoral Act, 2022 says any political association that complies with the provisions of the constitution and the Act for the purposes of registration shall be registered as a political party provided, however, that such an application for registration shall be duly submitted to the commission not later than 12 months before a general election.”
Naija News understands that INEC had declared June 3, 2022, as the deadline for political parties to conclude their primaries.