• Friday, July 12, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Falana support calls for presidential election tribunal proceedings to be televised

Femi Falana exposes $9 billion gold drain from Nigeria annually

Femi Falana (SAN), a renowned human rights and constitutional lawyer, has supported calls by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) for the presidential election tribunal proceedings to be televised.

Falana made his position known during his guest appearance on Channels Television Sunday Politics programme where he not only supported the call by the NBA but also made references to countries within the African continent that have embraced the presentation to the media of this very important judicial proceeding.

Read also: Edo election tribunal: Obaseki, others know fate March 29

He acknowledged that countries such as Ghana and Kenya have had their judicial and democratic processes strengthened because they embraced media scrutiny by televising very important proceedings such as the judicial proceedings in their presidential and prime minister cases.

He said, “I have always campaigned for that, and that is the trend now in Africa. In Ghana, the proceedings are televised. In Kenya, the proceedings are televised because the judges have nothing to hide.

“They should invite the media and members of the public, and once there is order in the court, everybody should be part of it because we are all part of the elections.

“And so the decision of the court in the elections should not be shrouded in secrecy, and for that reason, I support the call by the president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Yakubu Maikyau (SAN), that the proceedings should be televised.”

He said that this action will be in the interest of our elections and democratic processes as it further enhances the credibility of the judicial system.

On the issue of the numerous suits filed by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Falana said he understands the enormity and gravity of most of these electoral offense cases brought to the commission. He said that most of these cases would be pursued to a logical conclusion when many of the perpetrators who are sitting governors exit office on May 29.

“Well, SERAP’s position is based on the number of arrests that have been made by the police, EFCC, ICPC, and the rest of them—even the military—some of which were caught distributing money or inducing voters,” he said.

“Some were engaged in killings, electoral violence, and I think one of the NGOs came up with a figure that about 192 people were killed before the governorship election.

“During the governorship election, more had been added. The governors who are in power are going to lose their immunity in the next couple of months.”

Falana made reference to the situation in the U.S., where former president Donald Trump is facing investigation for interfering with the election in Georgia.

He argued further that the question of immunity does not arise as “INEC is empowered by section 145 of the Electoral Act, 2022, to prosecute electoral offenders, and since INEC says it does not have the facility to do that, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has offered to help.”

He explained that in furtherance of dealing with electoral violence and other related offenses, the NBA has asked INEC to send all the files that have to do with these infringements to enable it to prosecute such cases to a logical conclusion in court.

He also added that the Inspector General of Police has already ordered all commissioners of police to send the case files to INEC for onward transmission to the NBA.

“Unless we deal with impunity and electoral violence, electoral maleficence will never stop in our country,” he said.

“And we must make a point this time around that all those who engage in inducement of voters, alterations of results, ethnic profiling, and the rest of them will have to be dealt with.”

He added that there was no need to always run to the ICC or West to impose sanctions on perpetrators of electoral offenses, as it was almost suggestive that we are incapable of dealing with electoral offenders.

“With the commitment of the NBA and INEC, let us begin the process of bringing people to book,” he suggested as a way to deal with the menace of electoral malpractices in our democratic processes.