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Why NBA must put pressure on INEC to address inconsistencies of 2023 elections–Falana



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Femi Falana, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), has urged the Nigerian Bar Association to put pressure on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to address the inconsistencies of the 2023 elections, including the late arrival of staff and malfunctioning bimodal voter accreditation system (BVAS) machines.

Speaking at the 2023 law week programme of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Edo state chapter, Falana said Nigerians lost confidence in the country’s democratic process with only 22 million out of the 93 million registered voters voted in the last presidential election.

In his keynote address titled “General election in Nigeria 2023: A review of the nation’s political culture and electoral integrity”, Falana tasked the NBA to defend democracy and the rights of the people.

Falana said the body of lawyers must also work towards collaborating with the judiciary in drafting amendments to the 1999 constitution and the Electoral Act to institutionalise credible elections in Nigeria.

“INEC must also address insecurity at some polling units, including violent attacks on voters and officials, voter intimidation, snatching and destruction of voting materials, significant cases of vote-buying, and limited access facilities for persons living with disabilities,” he said.

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“The Benin branch of the NBA should prevail on the national body of lawyers to convene a national summit to review the 2023 general election as soon as the curtain is drawn on the election petitions by the various election petition tribunals, the court of appeal and the Supreme Court.

“The NBA should ensure that the summit is attended by the representatives of all relevant stakeholders. At the end of the programme, the NBA should collaborate with the judiciary committees of both houses of the national assembly in drafting amendments to the constitution and the Electoral Act with a view to institutionalising credible elections in Nigeria.

“Even though we cannot comment on the petitions that are pending in the court of appeal and the various election petition tribunals due to ethical restrictions, we are not precluded from reviewing the recent decisions of the apex court that have redefined the nation’s electoral jurisprudence.

“The NBA must defend the democracy and human rights of the Nigerian people which have been recognised and enshrined in the Nigerian constitution 1999 [as amended] and in several human rights treaties such as the international covenant on civil and political rights and the African charter on human and peoples’ rights to which Nigeria is a state party.

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“With the total control of the political arena by money bags, democracy has since been replaced by plutocracy. As if that was not enough, armed thugs unleashed violence on voters who did not vote for certain political leaders.


“The violence that marred the elections in many parts of the country claimed the lives of 137 people. The electioneering campaign was not based on the socioeconomic problems confronting the people but on religion and ethnicity. Instead of expanding the democratic space the national assembly members empowered INEC to deregister political parties that fail to win any seat in the parliament.

“Having hijacked the democratic process, the members of the ruling class have completely excluded the majority of the people from the democratic process.

“Since the ruling class will not peacefully relinquish power to the people it is suggested that mass-based organisations be mobilized to participate in politics. It is the only way to end the highly expensive and violent winner-take-all presidential system which has made a mockery of democracy in Nigeria.”