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Mixed reactions trail polls’ postponement

More reactions have continued to trail the postponement of the earlier scheduled for February 14 and 28 general elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. Below are some of views expressed by lawyers, including the Nigerian Bar association, NBA, on the issue. Excerpts:

By Dayo Benson and Bartholomew Madukwe

INEC should ensure PVC issue is resolved — NBA

THE Nigerian Bar Association notes the decision of INEC to postpone the 2015 General Elections by six [6] weeks in the light of the security advisory received from the Security Agencies that the required security personnel are engaged in a military operation against Boko Haram and will not be available to protect Electoral materials and staff if the elections were held on 14th and 28th February, 2015 as originally scheduled.

The security advisory left INEC with no other option than to postpone the elections. INEC can certainly not be expected to proceed with the elections without the required security support.

The new dates of 28th March and 11th April, 2015 fixed by INEC fall within the timeline provided in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 [as amended] CFRN. We advise INEC to utilize the said six [6] week period to resolve the challenges surrounding the issuance of Permanent Voter’s Cards (PVCs). There are still about 20 million PVCs yet to be collected by Voters while some PVCs are still being produced and/or awaiting delivery at this time.

We restate our call on INEC, to request the Federal Government of Nigeria [FGN] to declare a minimum of two [2] work free days to enable voters collect their PVCs from their polling stations. INEC should also ensure that PVCs are produced for all voters whose names appear in the Voters’ Register.

PVCs are central to the success of the 2015 General Elections and INEC must apply its best endeavours to ensure that all problems in respect of PVCs are resolved well before the 28th of March, 2015. Our entire democratic experience depends on the success of the 2015 General Elections and INEC must ensure that everything necessary is put in place for a successful 2015 General Elections.

The NBA also notes that the Security Advisory relied upon by INEC in postponing the 2015 General Elections indicates that Nigerian security forces are aggressively combating the Boko Haram insurgency and expect to totally eliminate the insurgents and secure the North Eastern States of Nigeria, that have taken the brunt of the insurgents’ attacks, in the next six [6] weeks. The NBA hopes that this security advisory is not just to provide basis for postponing the elections as is being suggested in certain quarters, but represents the true and correct position of our security forces in their efforts to rid our Country of the Boko Haram insurgency.

Are we stranded? Tani Molajo, SAN

army-jegaOur much awaited general elections have now assumed the unhappy appearance of a delayed airline flight. As the shifts in departure times are announced, the burning question also shifts from “when” to “if” the flight will depart at all.

Given the limited time now available to comply with the requirements of the Electoral Act, that “if” has become a huge concern. By April 11 (the new date announced for the concluding Governorship and State Assembly elections) there will remain only 2 possible elections – day Saturdays (i.e. April 18 and 25) before the commencement of the mandatory 30-day period (commencing on April 29) and ending on the May 29 handover date for political incumbents. In the circumstances, there is precious little room for any further postponements. Thus, we appear to be painfully enroute an answer in the negative to our question – “if”. It is pertinent to observe that the announced postponement has been tied to the Boko Haram insurgency. We are now into the 3rd year of that bloody crisis. Are we really to accept that it will be resolved in the course of this 6 – week postponement? Has our allegorical flight been delayed or cancelled? Are we stranded?

President himself should be ashamed-Prof Fidelis Oditah QC, SAN

I think it is really irresponsible of those who wrote the disgraceful letter to INEC alleging insecurity. The president himself should be ashamed; his primary responsibility is to ensure security.

It is the blatant admission of incompetence for him to turn out and say election should be postponed because he has failed in his primary duty. The president himself should be ashamed; his primary responsibility is to ensure security.

It is the blatant admission of incompetence for him to turn out and say election should be postponed because he has failed in his primary duty. Anywhere else, he would stand down on a shame. But here, people have no shame because we have lost all value.

It is like an opportunity to keep on giving excuseProf Bankole Sodipo

In a way, it is inexcusable because the national security officer who prompted INEC knew the situation before now. And giving the excuse of the state which has lost the PVC and so on, it is like an opportunity to keep on giving excuses.

It is very unlikely that they would have sorted the problem out in 6 weeks. It is a problem that has been with us and has been escalating for almost 2 years. if it is a good excuse to postpone, now it has come to be a good excuse in 6 weeks time.

My position is that it is inexcusable and we should not postpone. Since the postpone is 6 weeks time, there is absolutely no excuse, we will take it that the governor wants to sit back.

Postponement, in law, has no iota, semblance or modicum legal conformity- Chief Morah Ekwunoh

Combination of hard, solemn and contemplative critique of INEC’s recent postponement, by six weeks, of the February, 2015, General Elections vis-a-vis the proffered  raison d’etre behind it leaves dispassionate and apolitical legal minds with no option than to conclude that the postponement, in the circumstances thereof, constitute faulty exercise of sacrosanct powers, and, by extension, clear, unmistakable and condemnable subversion of democratic process.

The law gives INEC the power to postpone the election- Mr. Adekunle Oyesanya SAN.

I heard Professor Jega part way talk about reasons for postponing the elections. From what he said was that the security persons gave a report that they were not ready to secure the election process. Honestly, even if some of the parties have been crying foul and saying that there is a hidden agenda of postponing the election, I do not think there is any prejudice to anybody.

What the law says is that eventually the elections must be conducted at least thirty days before the handover date. The law gives INEC the power to postpone the election, so I don’t think anybody should be crying foul to it. Postponing it gives everybody and parties the time to prepare and INEC to have more time to prepare.

Electioneering process

More important is the voters, some people have not got their PVC yet. The most important person in this electioneering process is the voter.  One thing is very clear, the constitution does not recognize PVC, what it recognizes is the registered voters.

As good as the PVC idea is to cub election malpractice. But if those people who have registered cannot get their PVC, that is unconstitutional and against their constitutional rights. If you go to the election ground and say you want to vote without your registered voter, it won’t count.

Anybody can challenge that kind of process. In as much as we want the elections to hold as scheduled, but if postponing it is for the common good of Nigeria, why are we bothering ourselves?

Didn’t INEC think about security before fixing Feb 14? NBA Chairman, Lagos branch- Mr Alex Muoka

The challenge has to do with reasons given for the postponement. If you recall on Thursday (Feb. 5), the Council of States meeting held and it was to confirm their readiness for the election. But on Saturday (Feb. 7), INEC came up with the issue of security which they said they cannot guarantee because of Boko Haram.

The important thing is that didn’t they think about it before fixing the election for February 14? Why must it be on February 14? So it looks very funny. I am just tired of this system of saying one thing and later doing another thing. There have been calls from every well meaning quarter that the elections should go ahead as scheduled.





Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.