A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana, has said judges’ involvement in Nigeria’s elections should be completely eliminated.
Falana, who spoke on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics programme, said the Nigerian electorate should determine who governs them and not a few judges.
He was referring to recent court judgements that have sacked some governors.
He said it was only in Nigeria that judges determine the results of elections, calling on the country to learn from what transpired recently during Liberia and Sierra Leone general elections.
Falana said: “The stakeholders should go back to the drawing table so that the involvement of judges in our elections can be completely eliminated.
“Nigeria is the only country in the world today where results of elections are determined by judges. It shouldn’t be so.
“We have just witnessed in Liberia, a country in which Nigeria assisted in restoring political stability, a successful election. Recently, we just witnessed a successful election in Sierra Leone, again another country assisted by Nigeria to have law and order restored.
“So, if these countries can organise elections, why are we asking judges to determine the results of our elections?”
Falana also said the judgements of the appellate court sacking Governor Abba Yusuf of Kano State and Governor Caleb Mutfwang of Plateau State should be reviewed because the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) failed in its duty to conduct proper elections in the country.
He said the votes of Nigerians should not be nullified by the courts because of the supposed negligence of the electoral umpire that shouldn’t have cleared candidates put forward by parties without primaries conducted.
He also said thousands of votes should not be invalidated by the court because INEC officials failed to stamp ballot sheets.
According to the senior lawyer, election matters should be concluded before the inauguration of any administration.
In the last week, the appellate court sacked three governors that INEC declared as winners in the March 2023 poll. All the three governors sacked by the appellate court are in opposition parties.
The court sacked Yusuf of the New Nigerian Peoples Party (NNPP) and declared his All Progressives Congress (APC) counterpart, Nasir Gawuna, as the winner of the poll.
In Zamfara, the appellate court sacked Governor Dauda Lawal of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) when it declared the poll inconclusive about eight months after. The court ordered INEC to conduct a fresh election in three local government areas of the state. PDP’s Lawal and APC’s Bello Matawalle are the major contenders in the race.
On Sunday, the appellate court sacked PDP’s Mutfwang and ordered INEC to issue a Certificate of Return to APC’s Nentawe Goshwe. The court held that the party violated the court order that a valid congress be conducted in the 17 local government areas of that state.
However, the appellate court affirmed the election of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the APC in Lagos State.
Speaking on the judgements of the appellate court, Falana said INEC failed to perform due diligence before and during the elections.