Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana has expressed concern over what he calls “tribunalization of the nation’s democracy” saying it endangers the very essence of democracy in itself.
The renowned legal luminary who said nowhere else around the world is the mandate of the people being determined at the courts than at the polls spoke while featuring during a live programme at the Oyo State-owned Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State (BCOS), Ibadan on Monday.
As a panacea, the Senior Advocate, however, suggested that retired judges should be engaged in electoral petition thereby allowing regular courts to take care of other vital matters.
Falana said, “I am strongly opposed to the idea of empowering the Supreme Court to get involved in governorship election cases. In most parts of the world, it is not the business of the Supreme Court to get involved in local elections and that was the situation in Nigeria until 2011.
“All election petition appeals arising from governorship election, legislative election ended at the appeal court. Among lawyers and judges, that is the thinking, that we have to go back to the status quo ante. We should take advantage of the pool of our retired judges to handle election matters”
On the various preventive measures to tackle the ravaging coronavirus which has crippled the global economy in the past few months, Falana said the restriction order and total lockdown in some parts of the country are in order but that they should be reviewed periodically to lessen the burden on the citizens.
He frowned at the recent invitation of Chinese medical personnel to tackle coronavirus cases in Nigeria, saying government should not at this moment frustrate the efforts of local medical workers with inadequate provision of facilities and necessary incentives,adding that our medical doctors are doing well and can compete with others around the world but they lack equipment to work with.
He advocated for the allocation of oil blocs to state governments in the stead of individuals so that the government at the state and local levels can have access to more funds to impact on their people.
“We need to abandon the neo-liberal economic system being practised by Nigeria. There cannot be basis for giving oil blocs to individuals that will turn them to instant billionaires while state governments cannot pay salaries.
“Why don’t you give the oil blocs to state and federal governments so that they will be able to use the money accruing from the sale of the oil blocs to take care of health, education and other key critical sectors?
“This is not the time to pay debts to the detriment of development of our nation.You can’t be cutting capital allocation, while you’re paying debt. The economic stimulus package has to address the crisis in the health, education and other social services”, he noted.
Falana also called for a review of the National Health Act by emphasizing the improvement of hospitals and the national health insurance at local,state and federal levels, noting that if every Nigerian is captured on the National Health Insurance net, nobody would die of any preventable disease.
He urged the country’s leadership to learn from countries like Cuba, a country of 11 million population and 400,000 medical doctors with a good number of them been deployed to 15 countries combating COVID-19.
He stressed that the current lockdown and restriction order has terribly affected legal practice and advised judges to take advantage of technology to attend to urgent matters noting that “with internet facilities now, the days of conflicting judgment will soon be over. The National Judicial Council will have to come down heavily on judges deliberately giving conflicting decisions, thereby exposing the judiciary to ridicule.”