Renowned human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, delivered a keynote speech during the Nigerian Bar Association’s (NBA) 2023 Law Week Programme in Benin City, Edo State.
In his address, Falana raised concerns about the erosion of democracy in Nigeria, stating that “plutocracy has replaced democracy,” resulting in a significant loss of faith in the democratic process among the citizens.
News About Nigeria reports that Falana called on the Nigerian Bar Association to take action by urging the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to address various systemic issues plaguing the electoral process.
He specifically highlighted problems such as the late arrival of INEC officials and voting materials at polling stations, malfunctioning voting machines, and issues with the transmission of election results.
The human rights lawyer emphasized the need for INEC to improve its efficiency and transparency to restore confidence in the electoral system.
In his address, Falana noted a concerning statistic: “Out of the 93 million voters that were registered; only 22 million voted in the presidential election.”
This stark disparity underscores the widespread disengagement from the political process, he suggested.
The paper reads, “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.
“The Benin branch of the NBA should prevail on the national body of lawyers to convoke a national summit to review the 2023 general elections 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 to institutionalise credible elections in Nigeria.
“All mass-based organisations must mobilise the Nigerian people to take their political destiny into their hands by participating in the democratic process.”