Group Expresses Concern Over Deployment Of Soldiers For Elections

Nigerian SoldiersLess than two days to the general elections, a civil society group, Nigerians United for Democracy (NUD) has expressed concern over the deployment of soldiers for the elections saying the Lagos High Court judgment that soldiers have no role to play and should not be deployed for elections ought to be upheld.

Led by the Chairman of the Partners for Electoral Reform, Mr Ezenwa Nwagwu, the group based their apprehension on the last bye-election in Ekiti State.

The NUD stated that soldiers were allegedly used to intimidate voters and the opposition in the Ekiti State election, noting that the Police should be in charge during elections and not soldiers.

Citing Lagos and Rivers States as points of concern, the group urged the Inspector-General of Police to be impartial and professional with the deployment of the Police, highlighting the fears that the deployment could be hijacked by partisan interests.

A Federal High Court in Lagos had ruled against the use of military for the forthcoming general elections without the approval of the National Assembly.

The Presiding Judge of the High Court, Justice Ibrahim Buba, held on Monday, that “It is unconstitutional for the Federal Government to deploy military for the supervision of election purposes without the approval of the National Assembly”.

He noted that the practice of deploying troops from the Nigerian Armed Forces in the conduct of elections when there is no conflict is “anti-democratic” and unconstitutional.

“The armed forces have no role in elections. The time has come for us to establish the culture of democratic rule in the country and to start to do the right thing particularly when it has to do with dealing with the electoral process which is one of the pillars of democracy.

“In spite of the behaviour of the political class, we should by all means try to keep armed personnel and military from being a part and parcel of the electoral process.

“The state is obligated to confine the military to their very demanding assignment, especially in this time of insurgencies by keeping them out of elections. The state is also obligated to ensure that citizens exercise their franchise freely and unmolested,” he said.

The House of Representatives Minority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, had filed the suit challenging the legality of soldiers’ deployment during the general election.

Anambra Election: INEC Could Not Have Succeeded – Election Observers

Legal Practitioner, Kenneth Odidika has stated that the November 16 Anambra election could not have been successful, no matter the level of preparations made by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

While appearing on the November 24 edition of Channels Television programme ‘Politics Today’, he said “no matter the preparations anybody makes, if some people are bent on truncating the system, they will succeed to a very large extent.”

Although he was not part of the arrangement, he believed that the activities of the electoral commission that could be seen before the Anambra election showed that they did a lot towards conducting a credible election, stressing that the attitude of the voters is one of the major things wrong with elections in Nigeria, he said “the voters always make themselves available to be corrupted or to be part of the corruption of the system.”

“When the voters will openly demand for money from those who are seeking to be elected, that automatically compromises the electoral process, and this was done in the last election. I was in Anambra all through, before, during and after the election.”

Mr Odidika, who had once contested for the governorship position in the state added, “No party will honestly say it did not take part in that. I saw it, and in some cases, some particular kind of officers in some parties were moving round the polling booths ensuring that such a thing was actually done… If INEC officials took money, I wasn’t aware of that.”

Also part of the programme, live from Channels Television studio, Abuja was an Election Observer at the Anambra governorship poll, Mr Ezenwa Nwagwu who was of the opinion that INEC’s staff deployment in Anambra was not in any way unusual to what they have always done in other states like Edo in the past.

In agreeing with Mr Odidika’s views on the major factors that affected the election, Mr Nwagwu added that “the things we have papered for in the past, the precedence we allowed to stand in the past have come to hunt us and that is what we are dealing with now. Some of the issues that played up in Anambra were not things that INEC were not aware of in time past.”

He also argued that INEC is still involved in what he called “defensive public relations” with their claims that the reports of irregularities “is not widespread, reports cannot stand the test of time, it’s un-statistical… ” which are things that had been papered over and never dealt with in the past showing up again in Anambra to bring ridicule and shame.

Mr Odidika resolved that he would score INEC 65% for their creative efforts at the election but they could have done better claiming the issue of logistics should not have come up, considering the road network of the state which he said could help to cover the whole of the state in 2 to 3 hours.

Mr Nwagwu was however less subtle as he stated that public officers are put in position to solve problems and not to give excuses for why they failed. He stressed that the INEC Chairman, Professor Jega’s admission of regrets says a lot and Nigerians need to start asking questions about how public officers handle their jobs.

Discussions on the programme also touched on the controversies trailing the voter register and voter verification process, issues of underage voters, INEC’s introduction of technology, as well as the November 30 supplementary election, with both men warning about the identified challenges springing up again, ahead of the 2015 General Election.

Civil Society Demands Extradition Of Alamieyesiegha

Civil Society activists in the nation’s capital have demanded that the Federal Government should immediately extradite former Governor of Bayelsa State governor, Dipreye Alamieyesiegha to the United Kingdom for him to face his charges on misappropriation.

Mr Alamieyesiegha was recently granted a state pardon by the President with the approval of the National Council of State over his conviction for embezzlement while he was the governor of the oil rich state.

Spearheading a protest in front of the National Assembly on Wednesday, Mr Ezenwa Nwagwu, said the Federal Government’s nonchalance to series of criticisms from home and abroad over the said pardon is a wake-up call for Nigerians to revive the war against anti-corruption.

Mr Alamieyesiegha is wanted by the British authorities for money laundering charges..

Although the activists were not allowed into the premises, they urged Nigerians not to be distracted, vowing to continue the fight to ensure meaningful development in the country in the nearest future.

World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) and Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) have dragged the Federal Government to the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR) expressing “serious concerns about the state pardon granted Mr Alamieyeseigha by President Jonathan.”