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Government taken to West African court over ban on independent candidacy



A Group of Nigerians has taken the federal government to the Community Court of Justice, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS Court) over its ban on independence candidacy.

The Suit marked ECW/CCJ/APP/48/18 dated October 18 and filed the same day, was brought pursuant to Article II and IV of the supplementary protocol and Article 33 of the rules of the community court of justice.

The plaintiffs include Obinna Umeh, Kenneth Roberts, Dr. Matthew Oguche and Emmanuel Agada.They hinged their suit on the ground that restriction of citizens through imposition of political parties as the only platform for aspiration to elective offices, amount to violation of their rights.

They frowned that the idea of an independent candidate for the elective positions is completely disallowed as the political parties are placed in high premium and given superior considerations over and above individuals and candidates in an election such that votes cast during an election are said to be for political parties rather than the individual contestants or candidates

Consequently, they are seeking a declaration that every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to the participation in the government of their country either directly or through freely elected representatives.

They also want the court to declare that exclusion of independent candidacy as criteria for aspiration to elective positions under the defendant’s constitution is a violation of Article 21, 13 and 25 of the universal Declaration of Humans Rights, African Charter on Human and Peoples’ right and International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights, respectively.

The plaintiffs further want an order compelling the defendant to ensure an unimpeded participation of all citizens, including the independent candidates in all political processes leading to elections into elective positions through the inclusion of independent candidacy as pre-requites or criteria for such participation in its domestic laws including its 1999 constitution (as amended).

They are also seeking an order compelling the defendant to bring its municipal laws, including its constitution in conformity with the rights enshrined under Article 13 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Article 21 of the universal declaration on Human Rights, and Article 25 of the covenant on civil and political rights as to allow independent candidate for all its elective positions.

They want an order compelling the defendant to pay the sum of N5million as exemplary damages for the wanton infringement of fundamental rights of the citizens and for breach of international obligations to respect those citizens.No date has been fixed for hearing.

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