A legal luminary and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Ifedayo Adedipe, has advised politicians in Nigeria to hold proper elections and not destroy democracy in the country.
Speaking in an interview, Adedipe said that if politicians could not hold proper elections and the result is being disputed it is the courts that would determine a winner.
He said that judges would interpret the law at the courts to determine a winner in an electoral dispute.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria spoke on the backdrop of assertion by Nigeria's former President Goodluck Jonathan that the courts should not be where to determine the outcome of elections .
The former president recently said that elections in the country should not be decided by the courts but by the ballot.
Former President Jonathan had said that electronic voting was the only way to conduct credible elections in the country and the rest of Africa.
The former president reportedly said: “For elections to be democratic that means that the outcome of the elections must depend on the ballot (and) not any other institution not even the court. If the ballots don't decide who wins then we are not practising democracy”.
But Adedipe said that if politicians could not hold proper elections and the result is being disputed the courts would have to determine a winner.
He said that when the rules guiding the conduct of elections in the country are violated, it would be for the courts to determine which rules were violated or not adding that politicians should be careful about what they do in the electoral process.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria said: “If people want to go and vote and others prevent them using thuggery and so on, would you say such election is fair. The answer would be No and the people who can say it's not fair would be the courts. So it's our politicians we have to appeal to. They should be careful because if they destroy this democracy, they will be the ultimate loser. Politicians are the ones benefiting from politics. If they do not allow it to be well run, it will lead to crisis and the outcome of the crisis nobody can foretell. So it's for politicians to play by the rules as contained in the statute book”.
He said that it is the courts which will also determine who actually won in a primary election when the person who won would be removed and replaced by another.
Asked about the delay in handling election matters, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria said that there was the problem of lack of courts in the country to quickly deal with election matters, adding that there were also no facilities for judges among other issues surrounding the administration of justice.
He advised that politicians should be careful so as not to destroy the country's democracy.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria said that the courts would also disqualify those who contested and won in an election when they did not have the requisite qualification and appealed to politicians to protect the country's democracy.