Falana Advocates Punishment For Pastors Who Pray For Politicians To Win Elections
Pastors who collect money to pray for the electoral victory of politicians may be violating the electoral laws of Nigeria and are thereby punishable.
Senior Lawyer and Rights activist, Femi Falana (SAN), made this known yesterday in Abuja on Tuesday at the public presentation of a partnership between some stakeholders in the elections.
Championed by the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) and Human and Environmental Development Agenda, the partnership includes the Police Service Commission (PSC), Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC).
Mr. Falana explained that, by virtue of Section 124 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), any form of inducement is a serious criminal offence.
Pointing out that nobody had been charged for voters inducement since 1999 because the appropriate laws are not being invoked to evidently tackle the menace, Falana says “yet we witness inducements during our elections”.
He opinined that authorities must look beyond the day of election in the effort to tackle violations to electoral laws as regards monitization of elections.
“If we really want to challenge the violation of the Electoral Act via the monetisation of elections, we have to go beyond those who are likely to be arrested on election day.
He is however bothered that a great deal of electoral violators had been left out in the crusade against electoral manipulation through inducement even though “by virtue of Section 124 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), any form of inducement is a serious criminal offence”.
“We have left out those who are spending money on campaigns beyond the stipulation of the Electoral Act; people or parties offering money to defect; money spent on the media to manipulate stories and make phony projections; pastors and mallams to pray for candidates to win elections; unemployed people attending rallies; thugs to attack political opponents and disrupt rallies; and election officers.
He nonetheless affirm that prosecuting Pastors, Imams, and other possible violators of electoral laws may be frustrated for want of convincing evidence against them, as evidenced by the judgement of the court of appeal in a 1999 case of Chief Olu Falae and former president Olusegun Obasanjo.
“In the case of Falae and Obasanjo, which was decided in 1999, the Court of Appeal held that even though there was evidence that money, bags of rice and salt were distributed by the PDP — that was the allegation — the court said, ‘yes, but there is no evidence or proof that the beneficiary of the inducements, Gen Olusegun Obasanjo, directed the party to distribute or give out any form of gifts for the election.’
“With the cooperation of the police and other security agencies, it is easy to arrest those who distribute money during elections.”