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Civil society coalition, Agbakoba caution against inciting utterances


Task INEC over credible polls, insist on card reader, PVCs

BARELY a month to the rescheduled general elections, more voices are being raised against inflammatory statements capable of generating tension in the polity.

    In Lagos over the weekend, the Civil Society Coalition for Good Governance (CSCGG) decried the behaviours and utterances of some political actors, declaring they pose threats to Nigeria’s fledgling democracy. 

   Convener of CSCGG, Comrade Declan Ihekaire, therefore urged Nigerians “to arise, defend democracy and reclaim the country, politicians need to shun hate speech and electoral violence during campaigns. Election is not a war, so we should not conduct political campaigns as if we are preparing for war; elections will come and go Nigeria remains forever.” 

   Also, former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Dr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN) and Partner, Development Law Consultant‎ to Olisa Agbakoba Legal (OAL) Wilfred Mamah urged politicians to‎ desist from inciting statement unnecessarily heating up polity and plunging the country into chaos.

   According to Agbakoba and Mamah, in a statement they jointly signed said,‎ “day-by-day, hour-by-hour there is increasingly palpable fear amidst clash of hate language by the politicians about election. We want to warn of the looming danger and the need to avoid the potential cataclysmic eclipse. Our politicians are exploiting our diversities to satisfy their lust for power.”

   Decrying the danger posed to Nigeria’s democracy by the postponement of elections, the CSCGG boss said “With their apparent success of contriving the dubious postponement of the general elections by arm-twisting INEC to postpone the elections, we have decided that we will not stand aloof and watch the enemies of democracy continue to take us back to the juncture where we have long passed.”  

   The CSCGG boss maintained that Nigerians are politically astute enough to know that the postponement has nothing to do with security, adding, “There are fears that further postponement is a ploy to illegally extend President Goodluck Jonathan’s term.”

  Ihekaire continued, “CSCGG also opposes further postponement of elections since the constitution clearly states that an election shall be held no later than thirty days before the expiration of the term of office of the last holder of the office. There is, therefore, no more allowance for any further postponement beyond April 29, 2015.” 

  “Furthermore, the coalition is opposed to any change in INEC leadership or removal of Prof. Attahiru Jega, the INEC chairman. We condemn the frenzied and frantic campaigns for the removal of Jega and his replacement with a pliant and pro-establishment person. The INEC leadership must be left alone, Jega has demonstrated competence and commitment to transparent and credible elections.”     

   Ihekaire said that Card Reader and permanent voters’ card (PVCs) must be used for the elections to ensure credible, free and fair poll, also insisting that there is no constitutional provision for interim government.

   The group appealed to the security agencies to be non-partisan. “We call on the military hierarchy to ensure that their officers and men are insulated from politics and not used for the harassment of citizens and members of the opposition.”

     Agbakoba and Mamah stated that, “We are inspired by the recent statement of Omar Bagure, a patriotic Sierra Leonean, who advised Nigerians, based on lessons drawn from the 11years civil war of his country

The duo also stated that no Nigerian could afford to ignore Omar’s warning. We can only do so at our peril. To avoid the looming eclipse means that we must denounce hate speech, hate conduct and violence by our politicians.”

   “Civil society must exert pressure on law enforcement institutions to contain electoral violence.

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