Urges NASS to pass the Electoral Act immediately
Calls on IGP to expedite action on burnt Kogi woman during the last election
By Henry Umoru
Former Federal Commissioner for Information and South-South Leader, Chief Edwin Clark has called on the United States of America, USA, the United Kingdom, UK, and the European Union, EU to as a matter of urgency, come out with names of election riggers in that they were responsible for electoral malpractices during the 2019 general elections and subsequent elections in Nigeria.
Reacting to the recent visa restrictions on some prominent Nigerians by the government of the United States over their purported roles in the said elections, Clark said that visa restriction was not enough to discourage election rigging and other anti-democratic acts in the country.
Recall that the UK had also renewed its determination not just to issue visa restrictions but to seize the assets of such persons in the United Kingdom.
In a statement Friday, Clark said that after the release of the names, they will now be made to lose Visa Privileges to serve as a deterrent to others.
The Elderstateman has also appealed to the Inspector- General of Police, IGP, Mohammed Adamu to immediately revisit the case of Mrs Salome Abuh, the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) woman leader, who was burnt alive at Ochadamu, Kogi State, on November 18, 2019, just as he said that if the IGP does that, Nigerians will remember him forever.
The Elder statesman has also called on the 9th National Assembly to as a matter of priority pass the Bill on Electoral Amendment, that was passed by the 8th National Assembly, but which President Muhammadu Buhari did not sign into law.
Clark said, “Firstly, I wish to congratulate the United States of America (USA), the United Kingdom (UK) and the European Union (EU) on their determination to translate into action, their often pleaded Slogan of “Free, Fair, Credible and none Violent Elections”, even though perpetrators of these electoral offences would normally dub the actions of the foreign countries as interference into our internal affairs.
“But we often allow them to send their and organisations as election observers to watch or witness our citizens elections at all times. Apart from that, elections in all democratic country have become a global issue.
“There is nothing wrong in the actions of these foreign countries because it will, at least, go a long way to reduce electoral offences and malpractices in Nigeria, particularly amongst those whose names will be published and
who will eventually be affected by this Visa ban. Not only will such persons be ashamed to parade themselves in future elections as some of them are doing today in the Edo State Gubernatorial Elections, it will also serve as a deterrent to others thereby saving lives and property.
“This is why I join other Nigerians in requesting these foreign nations to go a step further by naming the offenders. These foreign nations have nothing to lose or be afraid of. Majority of Nigerians are eager and want these names to be published.”
On Electoral Act, the South-South Leader said, “If after sixty years of independence our elections cannot be free and fair, and even the primaries under the political parties are not free and fair, then we have nothing to be proud of. I do not want to be part of Nigerians, who call black white and call white black.
“The 9th National Assembly should as matter of priority pass the Bill on Electoral Amendment, which was passed by the 8th National Assembly, but which the President refused to sign for reasons that are not clear to the majority of Nigerians.
“That Bill should be treated immediately and passed to Mr President for his signature if they are sincere and honest about the state of democracy in Nigeria.
“I am, therefore, appealing to the President of the Senate, who is a very intelligent man, and the Speaker of the House of Representative who is very nationalistic and active, to take the very important Amendment of the Electoral Law before inviting memorandum for the Amendment of the Constitution.”
On Kogi, Clark said, “Despite the legal approach by the judiciary, with the violence, shootings, arson etc., which characterised the last Kogi State Gubernatorial Elections, was very clear to most Nigerians that the elections held in the State were it not free and fair. Nigerians have not forgotten how a housewife and mother, was burnt alive in her house.
“The people of Kogi State seem to have forgotten the role played by security agencies which was anything but satisfactory, particularly when the Inspector General of Police, boasted that he had posted sufficient conducting free and fair elections is one of my main concerns for our democracy, and I want this commitment to be one of the legacies he will leave behind when he departs office.
“In India during preparation for elections, the Police meet the head of the Electoral Commission to determine the type and number of Police Officers required for the elections and the number of Policemen needed would definitely be deployed, and they will be under the control of the Electoral Commission.
“The Commission will train the Police Officers, pay their allowances; the Officers will be the responsibility of the Commission and during that period they will take instructions from the Commission, and their loyalty will be with the Electoral Commission.”
He further said: “While I wish our dear country, Nigeria, a prosperous 60th Independence Anniversary, pray that as Nigerians we should show enthusiasm to patriotism and always endeavour to do the right thing.
“I call on Policemen to maintain law and order, before, during and after the elections. It was observed that most of the security men behaved as onlookers and seemed powerless.
“Therefore one is forced to ask if the response of the Kogi State Government to the statement of sanctioning election offenders by the foreign countries is an action of the guilty being afraid.
“One expects that when the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria makes a statement or proclamation that
elections should be free, fair and credible, the security agencies will religiously behave and ensure that such directive is carried out. But
because of the political interest of some corrupt politicians, particularly those who want to be Governors at all cost, and the corruption of some of the security personnel, the President’s proclamation or statement is never obeyed. Rather, it seems that these security personnel would take orders from the politicians, instead of obeying the Commander – in- Chief. It is very sad.
“That is why I have on several occasions advised the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to adopt the role played in India with a population of over one billion and made up of various tribes and religions, much more than what we have in Nigeria.
“Nigerians therefore, gladly congratulate and appreciate President Muhammadu Buhari’s statement on the elections in Edo State when he said: “I am passionately committed to free and fair elections, but my own commitment is not enough if other actors at ground zero refuse to abide by the rules and want to see democratic standards in the country raised higher every level, but these cannot be achieved when politician resort to do or die methods to gain power by any means or machination.
“The do-or-die mentality to politics is a threat to free and fair elections because the actors are more focused on winning than caring about a fair outcome that reflects the will of the people.”