Hundreds of Nigerians living in South Africa on Thursday staged a rally and marched on the streets of Johannesburg demanding that the 2019 general election should be free and fair.
Daily Times correspondent in Johannesburg reports that at the rally which was organised under the umbrella of Southgerians, marchers made other demands from the government concerning the election including the need to ensure that other arms of government like the legislature and the judiciary and unencumbered from functioning and carrying out their legitimate duties because of political exigency.
In a statement signed by Tagbo Agbazue and John Metchie, convenor and Director, Southgerians which was read and submitted to the Nigerian Consulate
in Illovo, Johannesburg, they also called on the international community and other stakeholders in the Nigeria project to be vigilant as well as monitor what is going on in Nigeria in order to ensure that the gains made by the country in its democratic growth are not reversed.
They therefore demanded among other things, free and fair elections; that the Police, Army and other security agencies be neutral throughout the period of the election ; that voters should not be intimidated; that the Electoral Act should be signed into law; that the independence of the Judiciary should not be compromised.
“These conditions should be based on the following: Respect for the Rule of Law and the doctrine of Separation of Powers, as enshrined in the Constitution; Guaranteed independence of all institutions that protect Nigeria’s Constitutional Democracy (eg the National Assembly and the Judiciary, as well as INEC, Human Rights Commission, the Ombudsman, the police and other law enforcement and security institutions etc.
“Supported by the observance and practice of the tenets of good governance, Responsibility, Accountability, Transparency and Fairness, as well as independence, discipline and social responsibility,” they demanded.
According to them, it was necessary to ensure that the issues they raised are duly attended to in order that the nation can have a successful election.
“All these conditions are of critical importance to ensure Nigeria’s long term growth, sustainability and competitiveness, as well as the success of the forthcoming elections in Nigeria.
“In particular, INEC should act independently and be well resourced with the necessary financial, human and material capacity to deliver on their mandate effectively. INEC should specifically take on board the lessons from Osun and Ekiti States to ensure the avoidance of the similar controversies.
“We also wish to specifically highlight the importance of guarding the independence of our Judiciary. Therefore, efforts to harass and intimidate the Chief Justice are highly condemned. All allegations of impropriety should be handled in observance of our laws.
“We support all efforts to combat corruption in Nigeria. We however believe that corruption should be combated without fear or favour. We condemn statements attributed to the leadership of the APC that: “join the party and your sins would be forgiven,” they stated adding that their concern was motivated by patriotism and commitment to the wellbeing of the country.