As 2019 general election approaches, Human Right lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN, has said that it is uncivil for political parties to collect money for nomination form.
He also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to change the status quo since he (Buhari) had to borrow loan of 27 million naira in 2005 to purchase the All progressives Congress, APC, nomination form.
Falana made this known in his keynote address, delivered during the one-day national electoral summit organised by Transition Monitoring Group, TMG with support from the United Kingdom’s Department of International Development in Lagos.
He said, “It is illegal and prohibitive to collect nomination forms. When you do that, you are excluding people from participating in the democratic process. In 2003, INEC attempted to collect money for nomination forms. Late Chief Gani Fawehinmi led us to court and the court held that it was illegal and unconstitutional to collect nomination forms, after we had dragged not former than seven to eight state governments to court over money for nomination forms for LG elections.
“The TMG may wish to put these cases together for people to know their rights. By the way, what is a nomination form? A sheet of paper! What is embarrassing for some of us is that President Muhammadu Buhari complained that he was asked to pay N27m in 2015 for his own nomination form and had to take a loan to raise the money.
“Now that Buhari is the President of Nigeria and leader of the ruling party (APC), what has happened? I think TMG will also want to take this up, especially the legality of nomination forms so that you can open the democratic space for people to contest and participate in the electoral process.
“When I was running for election in Ekiti State, there were old men and women who went to their rooms and brought out letters personally signed by late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, acknowledging receipt of contributions to the party (Action Group) from under pillows.
“It was acknowledged by the party leader and that was how parties were run. And if you were in a public office, up to the Second Republic, you were charged 10 per cent of your legitimate salaries. I’m not talking of running cost and others,” he stated.
Also speaking at the event, the chairperson of TMG, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, said the civil society organisations in the country aren’t resting until democracy becomes sustainable.
“As a people, we cannot continue to live in denial pretending that all is well with our electoral process. It is important for all to appreciate the fact that there is still a lot of work to do, especially in an era where innovation, advancement and improvement in every human endeavour have become a global phenomenon,” she stated.