Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has backed the decision of the presidential candidate of thed Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the February 23 elections to approach the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal over its outcome.
Falana however predicted that the former Vice President will face “insurmountable legal obstacles” at the tribunal.
Falana stated this in a statement he issued on Tuesday, adding that the former Vice-President should not be blackmailed not to take the legal step.
Falana, who said the calls prevailing on him not to approach the tribunal were uncalled for, recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had challenged his losses in court in the successive presidential elections of 2003, 2007 and 2011.
The human rights activist also noted that many All Progressives Congress, APC, members who lost the just-concluded National Assembly elections had announced plans to challenge the return of their opponents by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
According to Falana, the failure of the successive PDP and APC-led Federal Government to reform the electoral process had created insurmountable legal obstacles for election petitioners.
He said: “The campaign that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar should not seek redress is totally uncalled for.
“Aggrieved by the general elections of 2003, 2007 and 2011 conducted by INEC, Candidate Muhammadu Buhari sought redress in court.
“The chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomole and other APC leaders have had cause to claim their mandate through the court.
“Even some APC members who lost the just-concluded National Assembly elections have announced plans to challenge the return of their opponents by INEC.
“Therefore, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar should not be blackmailed or begged by any group of people not to challenge the presidential election held in the country on February 23, 2019.
“Regrettably, however, the failure of the PDP and APC-led Federal Government to reform the electoral process has created insurmountable legal obstacles for election petitioners.”
Continuing, Falana said: “the frustration of election petitioners has been compounded by several judicial authorities with some decisions holding that an election cannot be questioned on grounds of corrupt practices”.
Falana also insisted that any elections had been upheld despite the presence of malfeasance.
He said: “For instance, a petitioner is required to prove that there is substantial non-compliance and that the non-compliance has substantially affected the results of the election.
“In Yussuf v Obasanjo, it was held that an election cannot be questioned on grounds of corrupt practices.
“In Falae v Obasanjo, it was held that it has to be proved that financial inducement was authorised by the winner of an election.
“In Buhari v Obasanjo, it was held that the onus of proving electoral malpractice rests on the petitioner.
“Several fraudulent elections have been upheld under the doctrine of substantial compliance.
“In several cases, winners of fraudulent elections that were annulled were allowed to take part in rerun elections ordered by the courts.”
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