By Emmanuel Okogba
Human Rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Femi Falana has said that the accusations being brought by the All Progressives Congress, APC, and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, against the presidential candidates of the opposite party are diversionary and that nothing will come out of them.
He said the time left before the election was too short to investigate any of the candidates and disqualify them, and wondered if they were doing it for entertainment purposes.
Falana said this when he appeared as a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Tuesday.
According to him, another reason why disqualifying them will not be possible is that the section of the constitution that talks about a candidate being disqualified over indictment, embezzlement, or fraud has since been removed by the National Assembly and hence cannot be applied in this scenario.
He said: That [Section 137(i)] has been yanked off the Constitution by the National Assembly. That provision has been removed. [As it stands] they are at best suspects. What the court is saying now, in the Supreme Court judgment of Atiku Abubakar vs The Federal Government of Nigeria is that unless you are convicted by a court, you cannot be disqualified from contesting elections in Nigeria.
“That provision was being abused, and the court has ruled that unless you can convict a person he cannot be disqualified. In Nigeria, nobody shall be disqualified from contesting an election unless there is a conviction by a court.
“For me, the beauty of what is going on is that the allegations and counter-allegations are directed at people I will call independent voters. In other words, no amount of allegations will dissuade members of the PDP and APC from voting for candidates of their choice.
“I think voters who have not made up their minds are being requested, as it were, to weigh these allegations and see whether they would be influenced, but as far as the law is concerned, it is too late in the day.
“One, you cannot disqualify a candidate if you do not file your pre-election case 14 days after the primary election of the political party. The courts have ruled on that. Second, if you are not a member of a political party, you can’t go to court and urge the court to disqualify a candidate”
The APC and PDP have called for the investigation and disqualification of each other’s candidate over issues bordering on financial impropriety.
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