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APC, PDP nomination form fees highest Worldwide — Falana

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Femi Falana, human rights lawyer and senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), says the payment of “outrageous” nomination fees is illegal and should be cancelled.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had fixed the prices of their nomination and expression of interest forms for presidential hopefuls at N100 million and N40 million, respectively.

The form fees have, however, attracted criticism.

In a statement on Sunday, Falana said since the national minimum wage is N30,000 per month, the deposit of N100 million or N40 million has excluded millions of workers from contesting presidential elections in Nigeria.

“Ironically, Nigeria houses the second largest population of poor people in the world, but the nomination fees collected from aspirants by APC and PDP are the highest in the world,” the statement reads.

While noting that in Canada, candidates are no longer required to pay a deposit for federal elections, Falana said since the Nigerian constitution is the basic law of the land, any policy inconsistent with it should be struck out.

“Thus, the payment of outrageous nomination fees, which is not one of the conditions for contesting elections under the current democratic dispensation, is illegal and unconstitutional on grounds of inconsistency with the Constitution,” the statement reads.

“In the case of the National Conscience Party & 23 Ors v Independent National Electoral Commission (Suit No FHC/ABJ/CS/ 42/2003), the Plaintiffs challenged the announcement of the defendant to charge as ‘processing fees’ amounts ranging from N500,000 for presidential candidates to N25,000 naira for those seeking election as local government councillors.

“The presiding Judge, the Honourable Justice Binta Murtala-Nyako, agreed with the submissions of the Plaintiffs’ counsel, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN, and said, ‘Going through the constitution and the Electoral Act 2002, I fail to see where INEC was empowered to prescribe and demand such processing fees…. I therefore declare the processing fees charged by the defendant illegal and unconstitutional’.

“It is submitted that if the electoral bodies that are vested with the power to conduct elections are prohibited from collecting meagre nomination fees from candidates, what is the legal basis for collecting billions of naira from aspirants by political parties?”

Falana said while political parties cannot charge outrageous nomination fees, they may be permitted to request nominal fees for administrative expenses.

“The APC and PDP should withdraw the outrageous fees and charge administrative fees of not more than N10,000 per aspirant,” he said.

“Therefore, as political parties are incapable to prescribe conditions for the eligibility of candidates outside the provisions of the Constitution, the nomination fees of N100 million or N40 million pegged by the APC and PDP, respectively, are illegal and unconstitutional as they constitute a flagrant violation of sections 40, 106 and 107 of the Constitution, as well as article 13(1) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights Act.

“The illegal, insensitive and immoral nomination fees should be cancelled without any further delay.”

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