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2023: NBA to ensure free fair elections

By Ngozi Egenuka
17 January 2023   |   3:51 am
President, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Yakubu Maikyau, has said the bar’s duty in the upcoming elections is to ensure it’s free fair and credible. He also urged the bar to look towards improving the democratic process in Nigeria beyond the elections. Speaking at the 19th Gani Fawehinmi yearly Lecture, themed, ‘Free, Fair and Credible Election…

Yakubu Maikyau PHOTO: Twitter

President, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Yakubu Maikyau, has said the bar’s duty in the upcoming elections is to ensure it’s free fair and credible.

He also urged the bar to look towards improving the democratic process in Nigeria beyond the elections.

Speaking at the 19th Gani Fawehinmi yearly Lecture, themed, ‘Free, Fair and Credible Election as an Indispensable Tool for National Development’, he said, “the ultimate outcome of the election will largely depend on the interface between the bench, the bar and political gladiators. As members of the legal profession, serving either on the bench or at the bar, we owe Nigerians sincere and honest participation in the process. We must do all that is legitimately within our abilities, motivated by the desire to serve the course of justice, to ensure that the relevant laws and rules, properly interpreted and applied, remain the guiding principles for our involvement in the process.”

According to him, the freedom to have multiple political parties vie for positions is one of the legacy gifts Gani gave to the nation. “You may recall that in 2002, the Independent National Electoral Commission issued certain guidelines to regulate registration of political parties in the country. The guidelines imposed certain conditions on associations that wanted to apply for registration as political parties. Gani’s National Conscience Party (NCP) was one of the associations that applied, but were, on the basis of the guidelines, denied registration by INEC. Balarabe Musa’s People Redemption Party and Movement for Democracy and Justice were also denied registration.

“As usual, the irrepressible Gani could not be deterred, he went to Court to challenge the constitutionality of the guidelines. From the Federal High Court, through the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court, Gani argued that the guidelines were inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 relating to the registration of political parties. It was the contention of Gani that registration of political parties was governed by the provisions of the Constitution and that INEC could not prescribe guidelines for the registration of political parties outside the conditions stipulated in the Constitution.

“This led to the case of INEC & Anor. v. Balarabe Musa & 4 Ors. (Chief Gani Fawehenmi on behalf of National Conscience Party, was the 5th Respondent) [2003] 3 NWLR [Pt. 806] 72. The Supreme Court, in agreeing with Gani, held per Ayoola, JSC at page 150, paragraphs E – F, thus: “Political parties are essential organs of the democratic system. They are organs of political discussion and of formulation of ideas, policies and programmes. Plurality of parties widens the channel of political discussion and discourse, engenders plurality of political issues, promotes the formulation of competing ideas, policies and programmes and generally provides the citizen with a choice of forum for participation in governance, whether as a member of the party in government or of a party in opposition, thereby ensuring the reality of government by discussion, which democracy is all about in the final analysis. Unduly to restrict the formation of political parties or stifle their growth, ultimately, weakens the democratic culture.”