Barrister Muftau Olobi is a human right activist based in Kwara state. In this interview with our JUDICIARY CORRESPONDENT, KAYODE ADEOTI, he bears his mind on the electoral exercise that was conducted in the country recently. Excerpts:
People have been calling for a review of the constitution on the issue of educational qualification an individual should have before vying for any political seat, how do you see that?
As far as I’m concerned, the constitution for now is very clear and until a change or an amendment is made in the constitution, the minimum for now is still the school leaving certificate and nothing more. Morally, the qualification might not be enough but we have to follow what the constitution says. In some countries, they don’t ask for paper qualifications before vying for political seat, what is needed is just an experience. Once an aspirant has held certain managerial positions, that is enough in some parts of the world. Considering the issue surrounding the certificate of the President, at a time, he said he had certificate, at another occasion, he said he doesn’t have. Buhari said at a time that his certificate is with the military authority, the force denied it. We were told that time too that it was Cambridge exam he wrote. But from nowhere, the certificate emerged and confirmation of exam was issued by WAEC, once the examination body has cleared the air over the issue, there is little or nothing anyone could do about it again.
Do you think law should be amended to include screening of political office aspirant’s certificate before election?
It is very necessary, so that the issue of court cases after one had gone through election and won will not be arising. Everything would have been settled and cleared before the poll. It is wrong to be clamouring that the elected person doesn’t have the NYSC discharged certificate, O’level results and the likes. If there had been proper screening, it will save this country lots of mess we’re getting ourselves into.
Many Nigerians have faulted the elections conducted in the country recently for been marred by violence, frauds and the likes, how do you think this issue can be managed in the subsequent polls?
The fact remains that, with our system, there is no how violence can be curbed for now. This is because, we still see election as do or die affair. Onetime President once said, the election is a do or die affair and they’re ready to kill. For now, there is no way we can conduct election without some pockets of violence. In the last election, I witnessed people being brutalised, killed.
(Cut in) Can our law do anything to help the situation?
Yes, if the perpetrators are being brought to book, it will curb others from going into anything violence during election. If some people are arrested prosecuted and jailed, it will send messages that will create some fears in the mind of those who may intend to indulge in such act.