By Nwabueze Okonkwo
ONITSHA—VOTERS Rights International, VRI, a pro-democracy human rights group has warned the federal government against the consequences of transferring democracy day and national public holiday from May 29 to June 12, threatening to challenge the proclamation in court if the federal government stood its ground.
The group also described as illegal and unlawful, the conferment by the federal government, a posthumous award of the highest national honour of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic, GCFR on late Chief M.K.O. Abiola, the presumed winner of June 12, 1993 cancelled presidential election.
President of VRI, Jezie Ekejiuba who stated this in a press statement issued to newsmen in Onitsha, Anambra State yesterday, said that in as much as they welcomed the deserved conferment of national honour on the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN, the iconic human rights crusader with the second highest award of Grand Commander on the Niger, GCON, the President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government erred when it declared in its press statement to wit: “The investiture will take place on Tuesday, June 12, 2018, a date which in future years will replace May 29th as National Public Holiday in celebration of Nigeria Democracy Day.”
The statement further declared: “Like all well meaning Nigerians and lovers of democracy, we hereby join in commending you for proclaiming June 12th as Democracy Day and national public holiday in Nigeria as well as your posthumous award of the highest national award of GCFR conferred on late Chief MKO Abiola the presumed winner of June 12, 1993 election but that is not enough to transfer the democracy day and public holiday from May 29 to June 12.”
“Mr President, have you forgotten that you were sworn in as elected President of Federal Republic of Nigeria on May 29th? Have you also forgotten the significance and importance of May 29th which in the democratic history of Nigeria has witnessed the swearing in of four Presidents of Nigeria namely: Olusegun Obasanjo, late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and your humbleself”.
“The above declaration translates to annulling May 29th as Democracy Day and National Public Holiday
which was legally proclaimed by President Olusegun Obasanjo administration because of its significance. The limit you could have done was to proclaim June 12th as also a Democracy Day and National Public Holiday”.”Mr President, with due respect, it is illegal for you as a successor sitting President to annul the presidential proclamation of May 29th as Democracy Day and National Public Holiday which have been institutionalized, gazetted and actualized for the past 19th years of Nigeria’s unbroken democracy by a mere stroke of a Press Statement without recourse to the National Assembly made up of elected representatives of the Nigerian people”. “The opinion and wishes of the Voters who elected the unsworn President-elect, late Chief M.K.O. Abiola could not have been more valued and respected than the opinion and wishes of the Voters who
elected these sworn Presidents who have actually governed Nigeria”.
“We therefore, call on you Sir, to respect the wishes of both sides of the political divide by recognizing both
May 29th and June 12th as Democracy Days and National Public Holidays as any attempt to actualize the above declaration of replacing May 29th with June 12th as Democracy Day and National Public Holiday will be challenged at the Court of Justice”.