Leading rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana on Thursday dismissed the claim by the Buhari administration that the Labour Party presidential team of Peter Obi and Datti Ahmed is engaging in subversive acts.
Minister of Information and Culture, Mr. Lai Moahmmed had accused the duo in faraway Washington of plotting violent change of government in Nigeria by not accepting the outcome of the February 25 presidential poll.
Mr. Datti, Obi’s running mate in the election, in particular, has been in the eye of the storm raging over his comment that the winner of the poll, Mr. Bola Tinubu, would not be sworn in on May 29.
Mr. Falana however, said all the candidates pronounced victorious by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the different segments of the general election would be sworn in on the said day, including those of Labour Party.
Dismissing the government’s charge of treason against the Labour presidential ticket, the Senior Advocate told Nigerian Tribune that Section 37 of the Criminal Code Act is clear and the duo had not infracted it by their recent utterances, regardless of the political optics.
He said, “Messrs Peter Obi and Datti Ahmed 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 (6 months) for hearing of election petitions and 60 days (two months) for appeals arising from the decisions of trial courts or tribunals.
“All elected candidates including Labour Party elected members are going to be sworn in on May 29.”
Speaking on Datti’s comments that have heightened the political temperature in the country, Mr. Falana says 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 contends, 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 overawe the President or the Governor of a State.
“Any person found guilty of treason, and is liable to the punishment of death” he concluded.