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Ballot, not courts should decide election winners, says Jonathan





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Dr. Goodluck Jonathan

By Dirisu Yakubu

Former President Goodluck Jonathan, has advocated the need for legislation that will prevent courts from declaring a winner in an election. Speaking with journalists yesterday in Abuja, Jonathan insisted that the situation where the judiciary was allowed to declare winners in an election because of electoral fraud, should be abhorred, since it is undemocratic.

He explained that the ballot papers should be the only means of choosing political leaders, adding that when a politician or the electoral system is found wanting, the courts should only be made to order for a re-run and not to declare a winner. “Ballot papers should be the basis of selecting political officeholders. If it is the judiciary that should select them then we are not yet there,” Jonathan said.

“I am not saying the judiciary is not doing well but our laws should suppress the idea of our judiciary returning candidates. The ballots should decide who occupies the councillorship seat up to the presidency; that is democracy.”

While lamenting a situation whereby politicians use gifts to sway voters during the electoral process, the ex-President called for punitive measures against those who indulged in the unwholesome act.

He noted that in Nigeria where politicians induced voters with money and foodstuff on election day, such action is a criminal offence in other African countries.

“The problem we have in Nigeria is the use of money to induce some voters. Compared to other African countries, we spend too much money here. Probably, we need to review our laws because I have observed a number of elections in African countries.

“Here, if somebody is contesting elections, you buy bags of rice, wrappers, and all manner of items to induce the electorates. Ordinarily, our electoral laws are supposed to frown on such practices. If you do that, you are supposed to be disqualified from contesting in the election. So these are the things that make our elections expensive. I think if the young people are willing, things should begin to change.”

“For instance in Tanzania, a candidate does not need to print his name on matchbox or any items to woo voters. If you do that, they say that you are inducing the electorates. It is against their laws,” he added.

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Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka
Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

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