By Akpokona Omafuaire
WARRI – FORMER Director General of the of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies and Member of Commonwealth Arbitral Tribunal, Prof.
Epiphany Azinge, SAN, has declard that the 2015 general elections in Nigeria was massively rigged by politicians.
Azinge made the declaration in his keynote address delivered at the opening ceremony of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA Warri Law Week held in Warri, Delta State yesterday.
In his words, “Let the truth be told, the last election was rigged as any other we have witnessed. The difference was that political parties rigged massively in their comfort zones.”
While noting that the immediate past President of Nigeria was globally applauded and commended for conceding defeat, he noted that, “politicians and political parties spent outlandishly to win elections. The law was honored more in the breach than observance with high cost of election, comes all sorts of electoral offences, bribery, undue influence, thuggery, violence and disorderly behaviour. We have now graduated to kidnapping, abduction and political assassination during election.”
Azinge who spoke on “Nigeria Enduring Democracy: The Challenge of Effective Electioneering and Independence of the Judiciary” noted that the 2015 electioneering campaigns was characterized by the desperation on the sides of the political parties who indulged in hate campaigns to succeed.
He blamed the Nigerian Media for playing ignoble role in promotion of hate campaign, indicating that all is fair in warfare, pointing out that derogatory statements were freely used during the electioneering campaigns.
Azinge posited that the police and the civil defence be used in election monitoring while the military be discarded.
According to him, “if need be, then we should train and equip our police to handle such delicate issue.”
He blamed the Independent Electoral Commission, INEC for failing to ensure compliance with constitutional limits for campaign expenditure.
He suggested better welfare conditions for Judges and
Judicial Staff in the country by evaluating the salary structure of judges and how safeguard they are and
examination of the process of appointment, discipline and removal of judges and to know if the other arms of government are capable of compromising the judiciary because of financial control or lack of autonomy.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA Warri Branch led by the Chairman, Mr. John Aikpokpo-Martins (Esq.) has demanded a probe of the administration of Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan for allegedly mortgaging the state into a debt profile of N637.22 billion.
Aikpokpo-Martins said, “It will not be acceptable to pretend that our common patrimony had not been rapaciously devoured by the past gatekeepers; doing things differently will not be enough. We
demand a probe because Deltans deserve to know.”
He also called on the Okowa led government to cancel the Bus Rapid Transit, BRT at Warri/Sapele road which was embarked upon by Uduaghan and restore same to its former state, noting that it poses great hazard to the lives, property and vehicular movement as well
as cause loss of man hours among others.
He also appealed to the governor to prevail on the
contractor handling the Warri High Court Complex Project to return to site and resume work with a view to completing the project.
Delta State Governor, Sen. Arthur Ifeanyi Okowa who was represented by the Commissioner for Housing, Arch. Joseph Ajiri Ogeh promised to tackle the menace the BRT is causing Deltans.