Human rights lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) has backed calls for the televising of the presidential election tribunal proceedings.
He made the comment while fielding questions on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics following calls by the National President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Yakubu Maikyau for the proceedings of the tribunal to be aired live.
Such a move, Falana concurred, will put the judiciary in good light and make the process transparent.
“I have always campaigned for that and that is the trend in Africa. In Ghana and Kenya, the proceedings are televised because judges should have nothing to hide. They should invite the media and the members of the public,” he said.
“Once there is order in the court, everybody should be part of it. We are all part of the election and so the decision of the court on the election should not be shrouded in secrecy.”
While reiterating that televising the proceedings will enhance judicial credibility, he believes such a suggestion deserves attention from the authorities.
“It is in the interest of our judges, and the public. And again, it enhances the credibility of the judiciary,” Falana added.
“I am very sure that the suggestion will be seriously considered.”
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No ‘Controversy’ About FCT
The lawyer, who also spoke on the controversy about a candidate needing to win at least 25 percent of the votes in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to be declared president, said Abuja is regarded as Nigeria’s 37th state.
“I had expressed an opinion on section 134 of the Constitution on the 23rd of January this year – that is about a month before the presidential election. On that occasion, I expressed a legal opinion and that is why I was very hesitant to join the bandwagon when lawyers started to give political interpretations of that section.
“I did state that there is no electoral college in Nigeria and therefore the votes cast or recorded in any part of the country are equal. Section 134 of the Constitution specifically requires a winner of a presidential election to meet certain requirements. The first one is to score the majority of lawful votes and the second is territorial spread, a two-thirds majority of the states and the Federal Capital Territory,” he noted.
“And since the FCT has been interpreted to be a 37th state in Nigeria for the purpose of the constitution I didn’t see any controversy at the material time and that was when I expressed my opinion.
“But now that it has become a serious legal issue and the matter is now pending in court, I am very reluctant to speak definitively on the section because there are decisions of the court on the status of Abuja.”