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General News of Monday, 25 April 2022

Source: www.thisdaylive.com

Falana lambasts APC, PDP over outrageous fees for nomination forms

Femi Falana, Senior Advocate of Nigeria Femi Falana, Senior Advocate of Nigeria

The two leading political parties – All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – have been criticised by human rights activist, Mr. Femi Falana, for fixing huge amounts of money for their expression of interest and nomination forms ahead of the 2023 general election.

Falana also joined the growing number of individuals and groups that have condemned the state pardon granted convicted former governor of Plateau State, Joshua Dariye, and ex-Taraba State governor, Jolly Nyame.

The senior lawyer maintained that the amounts demanded by APC and PDP for nomination were not only outrageous, but also unconstitutional, as it would shut out a very high percentage of Nigerians from the electoral process.

While APC pegged its nomination and expression of interest forms for the presidential primary election at N100 million, PDP approved N40 million for its own presidential form.

For other elective positions, such as governorship, Senate, House of Representatives, and State Houses of Assembly, APC fixed N50 million, N20 million, 10 million, and N2 million, respectively, while PDP fixed N21 million, N3.5 million, N2.5 million and N600, 000, respectively.

Falana, in a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja, stated, “Section 87 of the Electoral Act, which provides for the nomination of candidates by political parties, has not prescribed that aspirants shall pay any fee.”

According to him, political parties by the law are only permitted to charge administrative fees.

He submitted, “By asking the young people to pay N40 million (being 40 per cent of the said N100 million) the APC has made a mockery of the Not Too Young to Run Act enacted by the federal government under its control.”

He added that the “apparent endorsement of the controversial nomination fees by President Muhammadu Buhari smacks of hypocrisy because in 2014, he had told Nigerians that he had to borrow N27 million to buy his nomination form.”

The statement also noted that APC’s outrageous nomination fees excluded majority of its alleged 40 million members from participating in the party primary elections.

“The APC ought to have realised that by restricting politics to the affairs of fat cats it has violated Article 13(1) of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act which states that, ‘Every citizen shall have the right to participate freely in the government of his country, either directly or through freely chosen representatives in accordance with the provisions of the law.’”

Falana laid the same charge against PDP, stating that with the national minimum wage of N30,000 per month, the deposit of N100 million or N40 million also excluded millions of workers from contesting presidential election in Nigeria.

He said while Nigeria currently housed the second largest population of poor people in the world, the nomination fees collected from aspirants by APC and PDP were the highest in the world. He claimed the said fees were illegal, citing various court’s decision to that effect.

Falana said, “Nigerian courts have repeatedly maintained that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and State Independent Electoral Commissions lack the legal capacity to add to, alter, enlarge, curtail, or repeat the conditions contained in sections 106 and 107 of the constitution, which have covered the field with respect to the qualifications and disqualifications of candidates contesting elections in Nigeria.

“Therefore, as political parties are incapable to prescribe conditions for the eligibility of candidates outside the provisions of the constitution the nomination fees of N100 million or N40 million pegged by the APC and PDP, respectively, are illegal and unconstitutional as they constitute a flagrant violation of sections 40, 106 and 107 of the constitution as well as article 13(1) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights Act.

“The illegal, insensitive and immoral nomination fees should be cancelled without any further delay.”

Falana, who also spoke at his Ilawe Ekiti country home, at a ceremony marking the 10th coronation anniversary of the monarch, Oba Ajibade Alabi, at the weekend, dismissed reasons adduced for the pardon of the former governors by the Council of State. He said, “There are convicts in our prisons who are much older than Jolly Nyame and Joshua Dariye.”

He added, “The government has been given different reasons for their release but what is important is that the Buhari administration has abandoned the fight against corruption.

“The pardon extended to the two former governors is an infinitesimal part of the abandonment of the anti-corruption war. There are those who have stolen billions of Naira whose cases had been withdrawn from courts by the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, who simply filed nole proseque.

“There are others who are discharged by our courts on technical ground not that they didn’t steal huge sums of money. It was established in court that huge sums were stolen, but the suspects have been asked to go home and enjoy their loots.

“As far as the government is concern, the pardon is just an extension of abandoning and embracing corruption. They used the anti-corruption war to deceive Nigerians, as soon as the government got established, little by little the whole anti-corruption crusade collapsed.”

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