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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

2023: Coalition raises alarm, says only judiciary, army can stop free, fair presidential election 

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The International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law (Intersociety) in partnership with other rights groups, over the weekend, spoke so strongly of the army and the judiciary, saying that they are capable of frustrating the smooth running of the February 25, 2023, presidential election in Nigeria.

Addressing journalists at a world press conference held in Enugu on behalf of other members of the rights group, the board chairman, Intersociety and convener, Eastern Democracy and Human Rights Coalition called on Nigerians to closely monitor the military and also stop them from terrorizing 2023 presidential voters.

Reading from a ten-page text made available to journalists at the event, Umeagbalasi said, “The Nigerian Military establishment, presently lopsided and dominated at command structure by senior officers of northern Muslim extraction, especially officers posted to the southeast and the south-south geographical regions have been identified as one of the state actors and democratic forces or institutions threatening the popularity and credibility of the February 25, presidential poll.

“Therefore as was the case in the 2019 presidential poll, the Nigerian military must locally and internationally be closely monitored and be stopped from militarizing and terrorizing the February 2023 presidential poll to pave way for the pre-determined outcome of the crucial poll for a pre-determined candidate.

“Apart from our recently gathered intelligence to the effect that the military has been presidentially briefed and given marching orders to replicate the 2019 presidential poll security infamy’, the recent lopsided and pro-Northern Muslim postings in the Nigerian Army and other branches of the military in the east is a clear confirmation of the fact that the military is at it again and bent on conspiratorially rigging the presidential poll.”

He described the recent Nigerian Army postings as a clear case in point, saying that it was done with total disregard to section 217 (3) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended which clearly stated, “The composition of the officer corps and other ranks of the Armed Forces of the Federation shall reflect the federal character, (geopolitical balancing of Nigeria”. Postings must not be done in grave violation of Section 219 of the Constitution and its principles of Indigenous involvement or participation by members of the country’s ethnic nationalities in the activities of the armed forces including senior and junior officers’ promotions and postings.

“Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution as amended was also observed in the gross breach. According to Section 14 (3), the composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few state or a dew ethnic or other sectional groups in that government or any of its agencies”. The military postings also violated constitutional section 10 which forbids the adoption of any religion especially Islam as a state religion and Section 42 which forbids discrimination on the grounds of ethnicity, religion, class, gender, etc.”

Speaking on the subheading, “Democratic Forces Must Checkmate The Post 2023 Presidential PollTribunal Justices, the rights groups said, “Judiciary has also been identified by this coalition as one of the democratic institutions in Nigeria speedily or rapidly transforming into anti-democratic institutions. The unmonitored Nigerian judiciary runs the high risk of upturning the sacred electoral wishes of the majority of Nigerian voters in the February 25, 2023, presidential poll and push citizens of the country to street revolution and its commutation calamitous consequences.

“As was the case in the 2019 presidential poll and January 2020 Imo Governorship Supreme Court Travesties of justice, the Nigerian judiciary per post-2023 Presidential Poll Tribunal (Appeal Court) and (Supreme Court) Justices must be closely monitored during the post-2023 presidential poll litigations to avoid replication of the dark days of Zainab Bulkachuwa at the Court if Appeal and Muhammed Tanko at the Supreme Court in the post-2019 presidential poll judicial proceedings and verdicts.

“It was the ‘Judicial Infamies’ associated with the 2019 presidential poll and the Jan 2020 Imo Governorship election that forced the leadership of the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) to blacklist all the serving justices of the Court of Appeal and those of the Supreme Court including de-recognizing them as “Their Lordship” and Honourable Justices” which remains in force till date.”

The Coalitions further drew the attention of the thirty-two international Democracies recently petitioned, to take diplomatic and democratic notice of the roles of the serving justices of the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, especially those designated for the 2023 Post Presidential Poll Litigations.

It called for the deviants among them to be internationally included in the International visa ban and other sanctions by the named thirty international Democratic countries.

Other red flags raised by the Coalitions include, “the Independent Electoral Commission, INEC’s failure to publicly disclose concrete measures being put in place to ensure the deployment of IReV, BVAS and PVC technologies and BVAS/PVC powered accreditation process and procedure as done across the board in the thirty-six states and FCT during the Feb; 25 presidential poll without discriminatory recourse to dual policies of sticking to or insisting on their deployment and use in the south and substantially collapsing same for manual voting/thumb printing in restricted and unrestricted Northern places, especially in the notorious poll rigging states if Kano, Katsina, Kaduna, Jugawa, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara. In North West, Borno, Bauchi, Yobe, and Adamawa in North East, and Niger State in North Central, as was the case in the 2015 and 2019 presidential polls. ”

“The rest are INEC’s failure to publicly disclose the number and locations of “flying Polling Units’ or polling booths not reflected in the existing 175,846 polling units in Nigeria, such as those created in the IDP camps and other locations only known to Nigeria’s INEC for the purpose of forestalling the use of such flying or hidden polling booths to massively manipulate the Feb 25 presidential poll in Nigeria or any part thereof.

“INEC’s failure to give the public assurance that postponement of Feb 2023 presidential poll is totally ruled out and will never be allowed, failure of INEC to publicly explain concrete measures geared towards ensuring maximum security and protection of all citizens with PVCs anywhere in Nigeria, irrespective of their ethnicity, religion, place of birth and class in order to allow for massive turnout and freely voting of candidates of their choice without violence or threats of same and fear.”

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