An elder statesman and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Robert Clarke, has said that in order for Nigeria to stop experiencing controversies during and after the electoral period, the Constitution and the Electoral Act need to be changed to make the law clearer for everyone.
However, Clarke went on to say that the constitution cannot be changed, as the people who are meant to change it are the ones who are benefitting from its current state.
Clarke made these statements in an interview with ARISE NEWS on Friday, while speaking on the state of politics and the judiciary in the nation after President Bola Ahmed Tinubu was upheld as the winner of the 2023 Presidential election.
He said, “We have to change the constitution. I’m sorry to say this, without changing the constitution, amending the powers of INEC, and, you know, making sure Nigeria, make sure that the elections adhere strictly to the laws, we will always have this problem. Every four four years, we will come back to be fighting each other on nothing, and in that process, we are making the politicians happy.
“Not only the politicians, you are making we, the lawyers, happy, because as I always said, this is the harvest time for us lawyers, but that does not mean that because it is the harvest time for all lawyers, then we take advantage of that, we push politicians to take up cases. As I am talking today, only God knows how many pre-election cases are before the court. All these will not be resolved for the next six months, for the next one year. Another circle starts again, and the politicians are gathering their money to throw around.”
Clarke then said that controversy will never leave the political space in Nigeria as he said, “Let us be honest with ourselves, you cannot remove controversies from politics and all these things. The problem is that the law must be so clear. If the law is clear and there are no manipulators around that law, everybody will be happy that whatever happens, nobody is going to manipulate the law.”
The elder statesman then opined that “the problem in Nigeria starts with the political parties. We have allowed the political parties in Nigeria to take over every area of our political lives, every. Without being a member, you can’t be nothing in the political arena in Nigeria. This is an area we have to look into, and we have to stop.”
He went on to say, “Nigeria is so spoilt. If we have a law that allows you and I to participate in politics, we won’t allow those rascals in the political parties to be dominating everything.”
He also mentioned that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had been given too much authority, and as such whatever they did during elections was right in the sight of the law.
Clarke then mentioned that these areas have to be looked into, saying, “If we do not take time, we cannot stop it except we change the electoral law, we change the constitution, we change the way and manner INEC officials are being appointed and many things, we will find out that there will be no trouble.”
However, he said that the law was not going to be changed so easily as he said, “In Nigeria today, we cannot control it (the law). Why do I say so? The people who are going to amend the constitution, the electoral act, they are all people who are enjoying the privileges.”
Clarke then mentioned that 90% of Atiku Abubakar’s ‘woes’ were caused by his lawyers. He further explained saying, “What they should have done 20 years ago, 15 years ago, they did not do it. What they should have done 30 days ago, they did not do it. Instead, because they have all this easy money to travel to America to collect this and that, they are now bamboozling everybody in Nigeria to show that Atiku has a case. Atiku has never had a case in this matter. He has been fighting Tinubu for the past 20 years. Is it today he is looking for evidence to fight him?”
The SAN said that he blamed Atiku, saying that he (Atiku) has known Tinubu for over 20 years. He claimed that if Atiku had come to him with a brief, he would have turned him away, telling him that the Supreme court will not hear his case and he will lose in the grounds of his appeal having no merit.