1991 Constitution Makes Subtle Provision for an Independent Candidate to Vie for the Presidency

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By Foday Moriba Conteh

Whilst many will want us to believe that the constitution only dictates that the position of President can only be contested by an individual belonging to a political party, the contrary is in the same section of the constitution Section 41, which gives the criteria for eligibility to contest the Presidential Election.

According to the said section, it has among other provisions that an individual should be otherwise qualified to be able to contest as Member of Parliament. According to the qualification for contesting for the seat of MP, an individual could either be a member of a political party or can stand as an independent candidate. Now if an individual could stand as an independent candidate and win a seat in Parliament, what will preclude him from contesting for the Presidency, when the same constitution, in the last clause of Section 41 states that if otherwise the individual is qualified to be a Member of Parliament?

Thus, until the section is amended to read otherwise, an independent candidate has the right to contest for the Presidency. Because no one had ever contested as an independent candidate for the Presidency does not mean it is wrong or makes that provision null and void. It is because no one cared to read carefully the said provision and to assume his right to the provisions of the constitution.

Some political analysts are of the opinion that it was this provision that was examined by the ECOWAS Court where Sam Sumana took his removal from office to that which saw him win the case against the State.

The fact that Sam Sumana was expelled from the APC at that time, allegedly due to political motivation, he had the right to still be in office, because he was at that material time an independent candidate and also qualified to be a Member of Parliament, in accordance with the constitution. Sam Sumana knew his right, and since the Supreme Court of this land ruled against him, he took the matter to the ECOWAS Court, who after careful deliberation and inspection of the constitutional provisions of this country, ruled in his favor and even gave him cost to be paid by the Government, which, as we go to press has not been complied with.

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