Human rights lawyer and principal of Festus Ogun Legal, Festus Ogun, has noted that donations by Nigerians in the diaspora for the presidential candidate of Labour Party, Peter Obi, do not violate any law in Nigeria.
This was in reaction to a call by some groups for the Independent National Electoral Commission to disqualify Obi from the 2023 presidential race for allegedly seeking funds abroad, contrary to the Electoral Act.
But in a statement made available to The PUNCH on Monday, Ogun stated that the donations made by support groups for any candidate’s campaign did not violate the Electoral laws or any other law in Nigeria.
The statement titled, ‘Diaspora Donation to Peter Obi Campaign Violates No Law In Nigeria (1)’ read, “Following the pledge of a Diaspora Support Group to crowdfund $150m for Peter Obi’s campaign, concerns are raised in some quarters over the legality and constitutionality of diaspora donations made in respect of Mr. Peter Obi’s Campaign.
“In fact, some groups reportedly called on the Independent National Electoral Commission to ‘without delay’, disqualify Mr. Peter Obi, the Presidential Candidate of the Labour Party, from the 2023 Presidential race.
“To be clear, donations made by concerned citizens and support groups (either in Nigeria or in the diaspora) to Peter Obi and his Campaign Team are not in violation of any living law in Nigeria.
“Those who hold otherwise rely largely on Section 225(3)(a)(b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as altered) and Section 85 of the Electoral Act, 2022. With greatest respect, these provisions of law are generally inapplicable to this instant case, and those who rely on them to demand from INEC the disqualification of Mr. Peter Obi, which is itself laughable, are either mischievous or misconceived.
“Section 225(3)(a)(b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as altered) provides that: ‘No political party shall hold or possess any funds or other assets outside Nigeria; or b. be entitled to retain any funds or assets remitted or sent to it from outside Nigeria’.”
“A careful consideration of the sections of law reproduced above shows that the 1999 Constitution simply prohibits a POLITICAL PARTY from holding or possessing any funds or other assets outside Nigeria and from retaining any funds or assets remitted or sent to it from outside Nigeria. The Electoral Act, by virtue of Section 85, only complements the constitutional provision by prescribing punishment for its breach.” Ogun further explained.
He added, “Having cleared that, it is safe to say that donations made to Mr. Peter Obi or his Campaign Organization in furtherance of his Presidential Campaign cannot be said to be made to a Political Party as envisaged under 225(3)(a)(b) of the 1999 Constitution. Neither Mr. Peter Obi nor his campaign Organisation is a ‘political party’ and must not be mistaken or confused for Labour Party, a duly registered political party under the law. It would have been a different ball game entirely if the donations were made to Labour Party as a political party.
“Donations made to political candidates or their campaign teams are not caught under 225(3)(a)(b) of the 1999 Constitution and Section 85 of the Electoral Act and are therefore not illegal and unconstitutional”