By Adeola Badru, Ibadan
Ahead of the 2023 general elections, legal luminary and human rights activist, Femi Falana (SAN) has said political leaders whose parties make false electoral promises are fraudsters that deserved to be prosecuted in accordance with Section 419 of the Criminal Code.
He also challenged media practitioners to stop the ruling class from turning Nigeria’s democracy to a plutocracy — a government of the wealthy.
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Falana called on the media not to renege in its duty of continuously exposing political parties in power, at any level, that make false electoral promises.
He said the media must assist in fighting the electoral crime of vote buying under the “vote-and-get paid” culture as was witnessed in the recent Ekiti State governorship election.
Falana made the points at the gala/award day to mark the 40th anniversary of the state-owned Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State (BCOS), at the International Conference Centre, University of Ibadan.
According to the fiery lawyer, “The leaders of parties (that make false electoral promises) are no different from fraudsters, who obtain money under false pretenses, which is a crime under Section 419 of the Criminal Code.
“The media should campaign against political parties which violate their own constitutions.
“People, who violate the party constitutions they freely give to themselves, will not hesitate to rape the country’s Constitution and the Electoral Act.”
He added that apart from exposing criminally-minded politicians, the media should also mount pressure on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to prosecute them in line with Section 145 of the Electoral Act.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, also maintained that the media should be fully involved in campaigning against the implementation of neo-liberal economic policies by the governments at the instance of imperialism.
Falana, represented by Dr Tayo Omitola, said: “The media should collaborate with progressive forces to fight for the establishment of true political parties in which members pay membership dues and therefore control their parties, rather than the present culture in which parties, mainly by misappropriating public funds, pay people to be party members.”
Referring to the presidential primaries, he said: “The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the All Progressive Congress, APC, had bribed delegates with millions of dollars in utter defiance of the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022.
“Apart from exposing some of the criminally-minded politicians, the media should mount pressure on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to prosecute them in line with Section 145 of the Electoral Act.
“The ruling class must be not allowed to replace democracy with plutocracy.
“The journey towards a just society may be long and torturous, but collectively, we can get there and build the country on a foundation of social justice.”
Earlier in his address, the Executive Chairman, BCOS, Prince Dotun Oyelade, recalled the historical background of the station.
He added that the media house had always fulfilled its role as a veritable source of information and mobilisation.