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Nigeria’s Political Class Don’t Want Democracy to Survive, Says Femi Falana

He said the myth of political structure has been destroyed.

Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, on Monday said members of the political class have shown by their conduct in recent times that they were not prepared to allow democracy to survive in the country.

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), also added that those arrested for various election malpractices and manipulation of results in the last presidential, and National Assembly elections should face the wrath of law.

Speaking Monday on  Channels Television’s ‘Politics Today,’ Falana said the last election was marred by insecurity in many places, late arrival of materials, violence and thuggery, and manipulations of results, adding that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) also admitted all did not go well with the exercise.

 He said: ‘’Members of the political class have shown that they are not prepared to allow democracy to survive in our country. So, for me it is not enough to review the last election without putting on trial those that have been arrested for various election malpractices, such as manipulation of results, legal possession of arms and ammunition and shooting recklessly to scare voters.

“If you do not arraign those who have been arrested for electoral offences, you’re simply telling them to come again. So, we have to make an example of them to discourage others. I am aware that in Port Harcourt a legislator caught with about $498,000 has been arraigned before the court, but with a wrong charge.

” Instead of charging him with inducement of voters, he was charged with money laundering. INEC will have to work with other security agencies to put on trial those who have been arraigned for exposing the country to ridicule.”

He, however, said in spite of the challenges related to the February 25 presidential and national assembly elections, many positives were recorded, including the destruction of the myth of political structure, adding that the people have shown that they are the structure.

He said: “There are some positive developments that were recorded. For instance, the myth of these political structures has been destroyed whereby people have shown that we are the structure, and the people are the structure ultimately.

“Secondly, young people have also shown this time around that we are going to determine the future of our country. Thirdly, you no longer have to be a money bag to contest elections in Nigeria. Another development is whereas the Senate chamber has been converted to a resting home for former governors; this time around, many of the governors lost their seats, they lost in the election and so they won’t be able to go back to the national assembly.

“The other development is that sitting governors and the sitting president could not win their states for their political parties. So, in spite of the challenges, a number of positive developments have been recorded by our country, and of course, I think the most significant is the use of BVAS for accreditation. It has improved the accreditation of voters.’’

Falana, however, lamented the inability of INEC to upload results to it’s central server electronically in real-time as they promised ahead of the elections, but expressed  hope the electoral body addresses the challenge before the March 18 governorship and state assembly elections.

He said that after postponing the governorship and state assembly elections by one week, INEC has no excuse, not to upload results from polling units on real-time.

On INEC’s power to review election results, he said from the information at his disposal, INEC had lots of complaints, and if INEC was to address all of them there was going to be a crisis. He disclosed that INEC has directed that all the complainants to head to the tribunals, where those who have been alleged to have manipulated the election would be sued together with INEC.

On voters’ apathy he said: ‘’We were expecting improvement because young people registered to vote, but because of the excruciating monetary policy of the Central Bank many people who had registered in their home states could not travel to participate in the election.”

Wale Igbintade

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