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Lawyer calls for further amendment of Constitution to outlaw defection


By Emmanuel Oloniruha
Abuja –   The Executive Director, Human Right Monitor, Mr Festus Okoye has called for further amendment of the 1999 Constitution to address defection of politicians from one political party to another.

Okoye, a constitutional Lawyer made the call while delivering a paper at a two-day capacity workshop for Legal Advisers, Organising Secretaries and Treasurers of political parties on Tuesday in Abuja.

The workshop was orgnaised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to address the challenges facing political parties.

Okoye said there was a growing concern with how some politicians were defecting from one political party to another at will.

“The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (As amended) should be further amended to outlaw cross carpeting.

“The regime of cross carpeting is making caricature of our political parties and the issue of freedom of association should not apply in the case of cross carpeting.

“This is important since individuals compromised part of the freedom for the purposes of membership of a political party,’’ Okoye said.

He also advised that Section 87 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) should be further amended to mandate INEC to monitor and appeal process of political parties arising from party nomination process.

“You will agree with me that the issue of organising party primary elections is a constitutional legal and administrative national and security concern.

“When political parties organise sham primaries, it is a matter of national security because it can lead to breakdown of law and other.’’

The lawyer also advised political parties to broaden their membership base through the creation of database of its membership and fidelity to the ideals and aspirations of the party.

Another constitutional lawyer present at the occasion, Mr Eze Onyekpere while delivering a paper stressed the need for political parties to have proper polices on their fund management.

“A proper managed political party should have adequate policies on income and expenditure, reporting as well as audit and compliance.

“It is not just for the purpose of meeting reporting requirements imposed by the constitution, Electoral Act and INEC.

“It is intrinsically good for the party, as it will enable its institutional development,’’ Onyekpere said.

He commended INEC and UNDP for organising the workshop in order to ensure that parties’ primaries and congresses were conducted in accordance with the law to avoid litigation.

He said that the workshop would help to remind them of obligations set in the law, rules and regulations for political parties, so that nobody would give “excuses that he/she was not aware or did not remember them. (NAN)

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