Legal Matters Arising From Tinubu's Declaration By P.D. Pius Esq.

P.D. Pius Esq. 


The Jagaban has informed Mr. President of his intention to run for the number seat to succeed  Buhari. This has spurred different reactions and comments. There are a number of legal matters arising too. Look! The moment you seek to occupy public office, you have made your self an item of public discourse or debate. 


By this declaration of intention, the Jagaban has subjected himself or presented himself for public scrutiny. People are interested in how old he is! Yes, how old is he? There is a minimum age requirement to contest for the office of the President. Section 131 of the Constitution prescribes a minimum of 40 years. There is no maximum age limit. This means my old granny of 123 years is qualified to contest. This is one lacuna of the law. It failed to apply the legal philosophy of retirement age of 60 years applicable to civil servants to apply to politicians. This a topic for another day. By the dint of Constitution, he is therefore within the age requirement. But that is not all.


There has been a raging controversy as to how old he is. There is even a speculation that he has altered his age by reducing same to appear younger. This is invariably a criminal allegation that will require proof beyond reasonable doubt. Not proof beyond all shadow of doubt. Those bent on stopping him have an uphill task to get evidence that will sustain this allegation in order to disqualify him. Otherwise he keeps sailing.


There is ofcourse the bullion van allegation that suggest that the man is corrupt. This is equally in the realm of criminal allegation which requires proof beyond reasonable doubt. The law is that *he who allege must proof* and suspicion no matter how strong does not amount to proof. Where there is proof of evidence then the law must be set in motion for his prosecution in other to stop him. Otherwise, his train has left the station and steadily moving to Villa.


I tell people that, when you don't take active part in politics then you have tacitly endorsed all wrongs you are complaining about in the comfort of your room. You cannot score goal from sidelines. You have to be in the field of play.


I am sure that other issues like the allegation of submission of false certificates in his  F001, to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) when contesting for Governor may still rear it head. There is an allegation that he attended St. Paul’s School, Aroloya, Lagos, which is alleged that the school never existed. There is another allegation that that he attended Richard Daley College, Chicago, between 1969 and 1971 which some claim it is false. We can go on and on. The point is that they are all allegations which will require proof by evidence. This is crucial because there is no time limit on when criminal allegations may be established in Court and for election purposes the Supreme Court has held in Sale v. Abah that if you have submitted forged certificates in previous elections and gotten away with it, because you were not challenged, the issue can be raised in subsequent elections which can lead to your disqualification.


There is invariably a lot to unfold in the coming weeks and months. We will keep you updated with our regular *election law bulletin*. 


*LAW TO REMEMBER*


There is no time limitation to when you can be prosecuted for election offences.



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