A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Robert Clarke, has blamed the 1999 Constitution for the incessant electoral litigations over the years and said there will be no end to electoral issues until the law is amended.
Clarke, who was a guest on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Thursday, said the 1999 Constitution gave the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) so much power.
The senior lawyer’s comment followed the Supreme Court judgement that upheld President Bola Tinubu’s election.
“The problem today is that the system we have, except it is rigorously looked into, we will continue for every four years to do the same thing we are doing for the next 20 years. I started with this constitution in 1999; today, 2023, there has been no difference. Every four years, we do a roundabout in trekking and come to the same point,” Clarke said.
“We have done about six election petitions and the Supreme Court has never set aside any presidential election in Nigeria. Why should they, when the law says whatever the umpire does is by law presumed to be right?
“So, once the umpire which is INEC presents documents to the tribunal and says ‘I have done my job, these are the results, if you are not happy come and challenge me and bring your own result’.
“That is what is happening. We have to make sure INEC is not given that advantage to present document and the court has no option than accept them as correct.”
“For us not to come back in four years’ time to come and be talking the same thing that we are doing today, we must amend the 1999 Constitution to remove that section that says to be able to contest an election you must belong to a political party,” the senior lawyer added.
According to him, all the problems today are being caused by the political parties with their numerous litigations from pre-election to the election as well as post-election.
Speaking on the outcome of the appeals by Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) against Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the Supreme Court on Thursday, Clarke blamed lawyers to the litigants, saying that they could have done better if they wanted a different outcome.
The apex court affirmed the September 6, 2023 ruling by the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal that upheld the victory of Tinubu.
A seven-judge panel led by Justice John Iyang Okoro ruled that the opposition appeals over claims of fraud, electoral law violations, and Tinubu’s ineligibility to run for president lacked merit.
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