By Gbenga Ariyibi
ADO-EKITI-The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Ekiti State has kicked against the appointment of a Lagos-based lawyer and human rights activist, Mr Femi Falana, as a legal adviser to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, saying Falana was a partisan politician.
Speaking at a briefing Tuesday, the state Chairman of the party, Chief Bola Olu- Ojo, noted that the appointment of a partisan politician like Falana as a legal adviser to the commission would make the body partial in the discharge of the national assignment.
According to the PDP chairman, Falana was the gubernatorial candidate of the National Conscience Party, NCP, in Ekiti State during the 2003 governorship election.
Aside this, he claimed that the legal practitioner was a known sympathizer of the Action Congress of Nigera, ACN and that Falana was part of the party’s electioneering campaigns during the 2009 governorship election re-run.
He further claimed that the activist and social crusader was known to be an ally of former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu.
‘He said: ‘In view of the above, it is our concern that if INEC is to be seen as truly independent crdible and non-partisan, political -lawyers like Falana must not be the ones to handle the commission’s brief
“We wish to advise INEC and in particular your good self to review such actions that tend to portray INEC as pandering to the whims and caprices of politicians/ activists. In particular, we kindly request that Me Falana be debriefed on your representation at the tenure case in the Court of Appeal Ilorin.”
•••I won’t succumb to cheap blackmail, says Falana
Reacting, Mr. Falana said: “I confirmed my acceptance of the INEC’s brief to vehemently oppose the tenure elongation of some elected governors because it is immoral, iniquitous, illegal and unconstitutional. Since I am not a member of the Panel of the Justices of the Court of Appeal that would determine the appeal on tenure elongation, the petition of the, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP is bunkum, mischievous and diversionary.
It is common knowledge that the lawyer who represented Professor Maurice Iwu-led INEC at the Federal High Court supported tenure elongation. The PDP never protested.”
“In its undiluted opportunism the PDP government in Ekiti State recently engaged my services to handle the appeal filed by ex_Governor Ayo Fayose against his impeachment at the Court of Appeal. Notwithstanding our profound ideological differences I handled the brief to the satisfaction of the PDP.”
“Since the National Conscience Party, NCP, headed by me is not a beneficiary of tenure elongation there can be no conflict of interest whatsoever with respect to my decision to handle the appeal for INEC at the Court of Appeal.
“However, if the PDP is convinced that I have run fowl of the ethics of the legal profession it should direct its grouse to the disciplinary committee of the Nigeria Bar Association, NBA and not engage in puerile blackmail aimed at violating the constitutional right of INEC to be defended by a lawyer of its choice. It is too late in the day for charlatans of questionable pedigree to divert my attention for defending the letter and spirit of the Constitution on tenure elongation.”