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Nigeria Has The Highest Number Of Election Petitions – Femi Falana (SAN)

Mr Femi Falana(SAN), the Human rights lawyer has opined that Nigeria has the “highest number of pre-election cases in the world and the highest number of election petitions. He added that the issue should be a matter of concern to “forces of democracy”, he added that Nigeria has had cases of this nature before which did not go in favour of the petitioners. Felana said this while commenting on the 2023 general elections.

Recalled that after the presidential election held on 25th February, Four presidential candidates had approached the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal in Abuja with separate petitions, seeking the nullification of the declaration of Tinubu as the winner of the February 25 presidential poll. 

In the petition, Obi further contended that Tinubu “was not duly elected by majority of the lawful votes cast at the time of the election”. Obi claimed there was rigging in 11 states, adding that he would demonstrate this in the declaration of results based on the uploaded results.

However, Falana who responded that a lot will depend on the evidence produced by the petitioners. In his statement:

A lot depends on the evidence produced by the petitioners but I am not in any way pessimistic having regards to our history with regards to the election petition, I can tell you that for me, it is extremely disturbing and I have made the point repeatedly. We cannot continue to involve the judiciary in the elections of the representative of our people. We must put that lay to rest. We have thought that with enough reform of the electoral system, by now we should be taking the court out of the electoral system. I am disturbed as a lawyer that Nigerians are now saying the election has been moved to the court. That is not very complimentary. But as I did say elsewhere, Nigeria has the highest number of pre-election cases in the world and the highest number of election petitions. It should be a matter of concern to all genuine forces of democracy.”

According to him, the 2007 judgment was split with four against three justices of the Supreme Court so it was a judgement which could have gone either way.

“So, as I said earlier, it depends on the evidence produced. A couple of African countries, their presidential elections have been annulled by the court, and in Nigeria, a number of election petitions in the state have succeeded in which the sitting governor has been removed. So, there shouldn’t be any course for alarm,” he said.

Mr Falana also blamed the non-implementation of the recommendations forwarded by the Justice Uwais Electoral Reform Panel by governments that succeeded the late President Umaru Yar’Adua on the systematic failure that characterised electoral petitions.

In his statement:

 “I am not a stakeholder but whereas the Yar’Adua government set up the Justice Uwais Electoral Reform Panel to look at this problem because the winner of the election did say publicly that the election that produced me was highly flawed and therefore, I am going to put an end to this ugly development. And the panel came up with profound recommendations on total independence of the INEC, conclusion of the election petition before the inauguration of a new government, the setting up of an electoral offences commission to deal with electoral offences and malfeasances so that Attorney-General will not terminate those cases by filing application for nolle prosequi. But what has happened is that successive governments have just ignored those fundamental recommendations. That is why we are where we are.

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