The Federal Government has been urged to ensure the establishment of the Electoral Offences Commission to guard against the current spate of post primary election court cases littering the various Courts across the country.
Professor of Law and Senior advocate of Nigeria, Paul Ananaba, made this call while speaking on TVC News’s Breakfast show on Friday morning.
Professor Ananaba who was speaking on the controversy between former Akwa Ibom State Governor, Godswill Akpabio, and retired Assistant Inspector General of Police, Udom Ekpoudom, on the Akwa Ibom North East Senatorial District ticket of the All Progressives Congress said the Law is clear on the issue.
He added that the interpretation of the Law by the various Courts and Judicial officers is responsible for the seeming logjam on the issue.
He expressed hope that the case will end at the Court of Appeal but added that the Supreme Court as a Policy Court will help in bringing the matter and Other similar cases to an end.
He also called on all Nigerians to strive to build institutions like it is in Other parts of the World.
According to him, the Option A4 mode of electing officials used for the June 12 1993 Elections would have been a model for the World but for is abandonment by those who should know.
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“Let me start with saying that Nigerians already know that we have a new electoral act and that is a judicial or legal reasoning that we weren’t trying to amend an electoral act that we must understand. And if we have that in mind in legal interpretation, we talk about the mischief rule. What was the mischief? What was the problem? We came to see, yes, it was in the First Republic, but in recent times, jumping from one party to the other continue that you set up a case in those states. If you move, you lose your seat, particularly if you’re from the assembly. It worked for a while. The governors themselves now said, well, it doesn’t relate to us, so we can move, and it doesn’t help our democracy. It’s just a selfish, self interest opportunistic thing. Now we now go to the primaries. You receive people, candidate or politicians, they go to party A. Are you giving me no ideology, no plan for the country? But if there’s no ideology, why would you force them? Because it’s like water in the water.
This is a legal response to such unacceptable behavior. So you now see the law saying if you are doing a primary, they will monitor, they will not dictate, they take records. Okay, this is where the proper primaries held. We were there. This is candidate, once political parties send you a list of all of them. We will publish. I’m just simplifying what the law, the legal regime means.
“Now you get back INEC as the statutory regulator goes back and when the party submitted the list, you see different names from the one they took records, but they have reports. If they send you to Go monitor a primary, you give reports.
“You now see different names. And then you now see that when you were monitoring this, there was another function, another primary. After that there was another primary and that’s what played out.
“And what were people doing? I want to be president. I want to be president. I want to be president. It’s not looking fine. I run back home, I want to take back my seats. And the law, as it stands now in this particular case, does not allow it.
“So there was a 27th May primarily INEC recorded. Yes. The only other way you could have achieved that is for the person who was decided to have won, to have withdrawn or resigned or have died. People say that it’s like eating your cake, whatever it was. Exactly.
“When those things are done, they are now pushed to the court. The court is to be made scapegoat. And I see tumbling as if it’s not the same law and that these courts are free. One court says, oh, this is the right candidate, what’s his name?
“What they say about the French, you never forget. And you keep going around the same circle over and over again. Yes. It’s sad that you know this position. They’re too desperate and too opportunistic and put all kinds of pressures on the court system.
“And they are the first to come and criticize the court system. They criticize the lawyers, the judges, and everything in its regulatory framework. And they are the ones making calls, trying to influence, trying to visit, trying to put money, trying to do this and that.
In any event, we are beginning to see some crystallization. I agree with the court of appeal decision speaking for myself, the primary was not aborted on May 27, and the person who won is still there. You cannot. And that’s why I commend the Senate president who says no, I won’t go for that. Let it go. That’s what maturity and integrity shows.
“What’s important is when you realize you’re on the wrong track. You go back and people are pushing this, you keep pushing it, putting the judiciary in the storm. And globally, people are watching us as a country.
“Some of us have over the years called for an Election Offenses Commission. That is when you could have that framework. But now my understanding is that the political party disciplined there members. There what they call the party supremacy using internal mechanism, internal democracy, internal whatever it is. But I look forward to Nigerians checking people who do not have a basic respect for the system. We have to grow the system soon.
“We are going basically the Azikiwe’s, the Awolowo’s are gone, the Ahmadu Bello’s? They’ve all gone. They made the people, the Saraki’s of the Second Republic, they’ve gone. Many other people are gone. We ought to have been building the system. I’m speaking for myself too. I think that we should get to a situation where we can sell something to the world.
“But they want to abide forever. They don’t respect that. And the next day you blame the President. I see elections going and people think a country goes well only because of one or 2%. No, we must be keen and see people who do introduction to believe that no, we won’t get it wrong again. If this institution is stable and the candidate doesn’t have so much to do in America, but for institutions, they would have been worse than us.
That’s the point. I’m making that look at us. We came up with option A four, a novel election system that by now we would have perfected, and it will be studied in political science departments across the world. The Nigerian option A4. Yes. Where is it? Out the window.
“This is what it should be again, look at what are we teaching our younger generation? That you should be unstable and you succeed. I don’t think it’s fair. I think that the courts should now, assuming if it stops at the Court of Appeal, do we find if he goes to Supreme Court, I look forward to Supreme Court as a policy court rescuing this country.
Well, one of the things you have put in first year in the law department is interpretation. It’s a matter of interpretation. In politics, a judge may be persuaded by literary interpretation, another one by the golden rule, another one by the mischief interpretation. And that one they use them generate but there are several of them, some interpretation, but every Judicial officer knows what the law ought to be.
“Why do we have human error in flying, a pilot may decide that I’m not going to follow the rule, but you see, we need to rescue this country, all of us, everyone. The lawyer, the judge, the police, the politician. We should be keen to it’s getting too late. It’s pinching everyone. If it doesn’t pinch you, maybe you f=gathered some funds. It’s pinching your relations. That’s the point. So this time I’m sure that in the next elections people will make up their mind. It’s not when they say presidential election, 100 people will come out when they are not actually interested in running for the presidency. It’s not when we say you were running for governor, you want to go to Senate.
“You know, all those I think we are swimming away from it and I hope that Supreme Court will help us finally swim away from it.
“There’s a window, they give you a window, the section 29 again, not 80 days. So they will start telling the police this is what we have. And in many instances, if you bring a name INEC has powers under the Electoral Act now not to recognize the name. You brought that did not tally with the name that is contained in their report, unlike before.
“Do you remember there was a time in politics when you could use DSS to stop the candidate? Yes, but now that power is in INEC andik has tried to say our reports don’t say that it’s a dispersing. And that’s what could have happened in many instances, many nations ought to know or may not have known that INEC has powers if the name departure brings does not tally with what their report is that means that INEC did not supervise that election or was not present in the election.
“That’s part of what plays out in many of those elections, particularly and many of them, each student has a match from the course. That’s what I’m talking about. Building up on our most that has come out of our experience is that it is that primary that the National Working Committee supports that is recognized. So if the National Working Committee in State A says this is where the primaries will hold, they notify INEC, that’s where INEC will go. And any primary that takes place there is the right one. The state can say, no, no primary will hold it. It is in this place. So that one the state does will not be valid. However, that is what has imagined our Jurisprudence. But what the Law says is that it is the one that INECattends. And that was what played out in the Augustin and Ntukuepong factions primary. But at the end of the day, if there’s a clash, the law support, the one INEC monitors. That’s the position.