By Gbenga Oke & James Ezema
LAGOS â€” FORMER National Democratic Coalition, NADECO, chieftain, Rear Admiral Ndubisi Kanu (rtd), yesterday said electoral reforms and the attempt to ensure that peopleâ€™s vote count will not prevent rigging in 2011, rather, the problem will be worse.
Similarly, Lagos lawyer, Femi Falana, disagreed with President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, that some senior members of the bar can undertake cases even when the Supreme Court had ruled on such matters.
According to him, such development is dangerous.
These views were among those expressed in Lagos yesterday at the Ajasin Foundationâ€™s 10th Anniversary and 2009 Annual Colloquium entitled: â€œRule of Law and Prospects of Democracyâ€.
Speakers at the event however agreed that genuine democracy would not be entrenched in the country without rule of law in its true sense.
Notable speakers at the occasion included Rt Rev Bolanle Gbongi who is the foundationâ€™s chairman, NBA President, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), Ambassador Oladapo Fafowora, who gave the keynote address and former Vice Chancellor of the University of Ado Ekiti, Akin Oyebode and Hon Abike Dabiri- Erewa.
Others included social scientist Prof Femi Odekunle, Mr Falana.
Also in attendance were Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Chief G.O,K Ajayi (SAN), Dr Kayode Fayemi, Chief Ayo Opadokun, Prof Babs Fafunwa, Prof Itse Sagay, Chief Mobolaji Osomo, Chief Kofowora Bucknor, Chief Oladapo Olaitan and Dr Modebola Ajasin and other children of the late politician.
According to Admiral Kanu, â€œThe moment you aggregate power, you corrupt the way Nigeria came into being, you corrupt the rule of law, you corrupt democracy, you corrupt the courage of the people to react, then you cannot be talking about free and fair election.
â€œAnybody who says he does not know that M.K.O. Abiola won the election in 1993 can go on deceiving himself. And that was an election that got annulled. What we are seeing are costly secondary application, and if you think that by strengthening electoral laws, by telling people to defend their votes and by 2011 there will be any difference, I would love to be proven wrong. We havenâ€™t seen anything yet.â€
In his opening remarks, the NBA President, Rotimi Akeredolu, who stood in for former Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Alfa Belgore said; â€œThe rule of law does not end with just obeying selected judgment of the courts. The rule of law is much more than that. And when you add issue of democracy, a number of us continue to stress that fact that a lot still needs to be done to have democracy in the true sense of it.
â€œOne thing that is certain is that there is no way this country is going to develop and, at the end of the day, attain its goals until we have a proper election. That is why Mandela today is respected.
â€œIf Mandela had gone ahead after his first term to be involved in rigging election in South Africa, South Africa would not have been what it is today. Election as most of us know is the bedrock of any democracy. I say it and Iâ€™ve challenged people; I have contested elections before, not political election, if most Nigerians participate in a free and fair election, there will not be electoral petitions.
â€œAll they want to know is that it is free and fair and everybody will go home. So, all the clamour for hearing for electoral petition before people are sworn in will die down because there will be little contest. But where every election from ward is rigged, there is no way we can move forward in this country.â€
However, reacting to Akeredoluâ€™s comments on why lawyers should not be reject