BY JAMES KANYIP
The online version of The Guardian Newspaper reported that APC had sold its Senatorial nomination form to Senator Joshua Dariye, a former 2-term Governor of Plateau State and the present 2-term Senator representing Plateau Central Senatorial District. But, this is not the sensation here.
What is sensational about the news is that Dariye is not only seeking for a third term as a Senator, the nomination form was sold to him by APC in prison where he is serving a 14-year prison term for financial crimes after he had, earlier this year, being found guilty and convicted accordingly by a High Court in Abuja.
Just two days ago, I made the point that Kemi Adeosun’s resignation had set the standard and precedent for public morality and probity which, before now, was lacking in our public life. It is unfortunate that few days after her resignation, APC would still sale its nomination form to a convict who is currently serving a prison term.
Anyhow one looks at it, from both the legal and moral perspectives, Dariye is not quaified to contest for the Senatorial seat or any election in Nigeria.
From the legal angle, section 66 (1) (c) and (d) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 provides as follows:
“(1) No person shall be qualified for election to the Senate or the House of Representatives if —
“(c) he is under a sentence of death imposed on him by any competent court of law or tribunal in Nigeria or a sentence of imprisonment or fine for an offence involving dishonesty or fraud (by whatever name called) or any other offence imposed on him by such a court or tribunal or substituted by a competent authority for any other sentence imposed on him by such a court ;
“(d) within a period of less than ten years before the date of an election to legislative house, he has been convicted and sentenced for an offence involving dishonesty or he has been found guilty of a contravention of the Code of Conduct.”
The above constitutional provisions are plain, clear and unambiguous. They need no further elucidation or interpretation.
Agreed that Dariye has the right to appeal, up to the Supreme Court, against the judgment of the Abuja High Court convicting him, until his conviction is ultimately set aside by the same Supreme Court, or the Court of Appeal, depending on where the appeal terminates, he still remains, at the moment, a convict for all intent and purposes.
Therefore, as it stands now, he is not constitutionally qualified to contest for the Senatorial seat or any other election in Nigeria; and APC should not have sold the nomination form to him.
On the moral pedestal, APC has a moral obligation not to have sold the nomination form to Dariye. This should be the least expected in an era where the APC-led government is propagating to the whole world that it is fighting corruption. When we juxtapose the timing of the resignation of Adeosun and the sale of this form to Dariye, APC has a big moral question to answer.
On the part of Dariye, why would he want to contest an election that he knew from the outset he would not be able to physically and effectively represent his people? Even as it is at the moment, he is a Senator merely by name and not by representation, given the fact that he is still within the confines of his prison room and not in the Senate Chambers.
As I introduced him earlier, Dariye was a former 2-term Governor of Plateau State and the present 2-term Senator representing Plateau Central Senatorial District, now seeking for a third term from his prison room. This means he has seen it all in the political space. What else does he really want politically? Purchasing the nomination form to seek for a third term from his prison room election is preposterous!
Once again, it has proven how selfish, greedy and gluttonic some Nigerian politicians can be. Is the Plateau Central Senatorial District a monarchy and Dariye its monarch? Why can’t he let go and pay more attention to clearing his name in honour first, that is if there is any remnant of honour attached to it? It is sickening, to say the least.
What is the moral rationale of selling the nomination form to a convict serving a prison term? APC should have told Dariye in unequivocal terms that he should forget about contesting any election under its platform until the Court of Appeal or Supreme Court, as the case may be, sets aside his conviction.
The truth is: Dariye is constitutionally and morally disqualified from contesting the Senatorial seat or any other election in Nigeria for now. Therefore, the sale of the Senatorial nomination form by APC to him is both constitutionally and morally wrong.
Sale of Nomination Form to Dariye: A Legal And Moral Aberration, By Barr. James Kanyip
BY JAMES KANYIP