Monday, February 16, 2015

Nigeria: Lawyers lash out at election postponement

TWO Lagos based lawyers, Dr. Wilfred Mamah and Derin Fagbure, have stated that the postponement of Nigeria’s general election 2015, by INEC chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, raises a structural challenge of disorder and lack of accountability in the country.

In a statement, the lawyers posited that INEC’s admitted un-readiness, after four years of costly preparation, was a clear demonstration that the Nigerian people who have been counting on February 14, 2015 ,as the day to exercise their ultimate power of choice had not received value for their money.

The statement read in part: “The fact that Nigerians were led to believe that INEC was ready for the election raises serious questions of transparency and credibility. The issues involved in this postponement are beyond the textual interpretation of the Constitution and/or Electoral Act. The Nigerian people, as the embodiment of laws, should be the benchmark for testing the reasonableness of this postponement. By this postponement, the new date for the Governorship and Legislative elections has been set for 11 April 2015.”

Mamah and Fagbure explained that with the postponement, INEC has shown itself to be either incompetent or grossly negligent. “Their actions and inactions had caused serious psychological dent on Nigerians, home and abroad. The attendant social, political and economic costs are massive. Internationally, INEC’s lethargy gravely affects our national image and fuels the growing perception of corruption and disorder.

“In an ordered society, there should be a price to pay for incompetence or negligence. Therefore, it is right and proper that INEC be reprimanded for this breach of trust. For all the political parties, this delay and general disquiet it has caused should send a clear signal that there is a higher stake in the 2015 elections. That stake is the very survival of the State itself. Therefore, all political actors must cautiously guard their words and actions.

“For the general public, delay is not denial. Let this postponement serve as a wake-up call for all eligible voters to pick up their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) and prepare to exercise and defend their ultimate right to affirm or revoke power, they asserted.”

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