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Independent Candidacy: ECOWAS Court To Deliver Judgement On 1 July

Unic Press UK: The Community Court of Justice, the judicial organ of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will on 1 July 2020 deliver judgement in a suit filed by seven persons alleging that Section 221 of the Nigerian constitution, which bars independent candidates from contesting for elective offices, is a violation of their rights to participate in governance, an affront to Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a violation of Article 13 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples, and a breach of Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights.

In a press statement on its official website, the Community Court of Justice, said:

In suit no: ECW/CCJ/APP/48/18 the Applicants, Obinna Umeh, Kenneth Roberts, Goodluck Edafe, Dr. Matthew Oguche, Macauley S. William – Jumbo, Josephine E. Okeke (Mrs.) and Emmanuel Agada through their counsel, Barrister F.A Oguche approached the Court to challenge the ban on independent candidacy by that provision which required that those seeking elective offices must do so under the platform of a political party.

The applicants, through their legal counsel, Barrister F.A Oguche, are praying the ECOWAS Court to, among other prayers:

  • Declare that the Applicants, and indeed every citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is entitled to participate in the government of their country either directly or through freely elected representatives;
  • Declare that the pre-requisite of membership of a political party as condition for aspirations to elective positions under the Defendant’s 1999 Constitution (as amended) and with no provision whatsoever or approval for independent candidacy is an abridgement, curtailment and restriction of the right of participation enshrined in Articles 21, 13 and 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and is undemocratic and an infringement on internationally guaranteed human rights;
  • Issue an order compelling the Defendant to pay the sum of ₦5 Million Naira, as exemplary damages for the wanton infringement of the fundamental rights of the Applicants and for the breach of the country’s international obligations to respect those rights.

In his submission, the legal counsel for the Defendant, T.D. Agbe, said that the Applicants’ are asking for is a constitutional amendment that is vested in the people of Nigeria through national and state assemblies and beyond the scope of the power of the Court, urging the Court to dismiss the suit for lack of merit. Agbe further submitted that the Defendant`s democratic setting allows for a multiple political parties and every qualified citizen is free in association with other citizens to register a political party and participate in any of the elective positions. He averred that the Nigerian Constitution is in line with the ideology enshrined in Article 13 of the African Charter of Peoples and Human Rights.

The 3-man panel of judges are the Court president, Justice Edward Asante Amoako, Justice Keikura Bangura, and Januara Tavares Moreira Costa.

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