Obi-Datti's comments didn't violate Section 37 of Criminal Code Act, says Femi Falana

Obi-Datti's comments didn't violate Section 37 of Criminal Code Act, says Femi Falana

Nigerian lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), has dismissed the claim by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration that the Labour Party (LP) presidential team of Peter Obi and Baba Datti-Ahmed is engaging in subversive acts.

Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, had accused the duo of plotting a violent change of government in Nigeria by not accepting the outcome of the February 25 presidential poll.

Datti, Obi’s running mate in the election, in particular, has been in the eye of the storm over his comment that the winner of the poll, Bola Tinubu, should not be sworn in on May 29.

Falana, however, said all the candidates pronounced victorious by INEC in the different segments of the elections would be sworn in on the said day, including those of LP.

Dismissing the government’s charge of treason against Obi, Falana said Section 37 of the Criminal Code Act is clear and the duo of Obi and Datti had not infracted it by their recent utterances.

He said, “They have approached the court to challenge the results of the presidential election in line with the provisions of the Constitution and the Electoral Act.

“The law provides that the persons declared by INEC to have won the elections shall be sworn in pending the determination of the election petitions.

“The law prescribes 180 days (six months) for hearing of election petitions and 60 days for appeals arising from the decisions of trial courts or tribunals.”

Speaking on Datti’s comments that have heightened the political temperature in the country, Falana said expression of one’s opinion doesn’t amount to treason.

“Whoever says inauguration will not hold is merely expressing his or her opinion. It is not treason to express one’s personal opinion” he said, adding, “by virtue of section 37 of the Criminal Code Act, treason occurs when any person levies war against the State, in order to intimidate or overwhelm the President or governor of a state.

“Any person found guilty of treason is liable to the punishment of death,” he concluded.

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